Police Crack Down on Jaywalkers After Deaths on W. 96th St.
UPPER WEST SIDE — Police launched a crackdown on jaywalkers on an Upper West Side street after the third fatal accident in just over a week.
Samantha Lee, 26, was crossing West 96th Street between Broadway and West End Avenue, when she was hit by a westbound St. Luke’s Hospital ambulance just before 5 a.m., police said.
Lee, who lived on the block, was thrown into the eastbound lane after the ambulance's driver's side mirror grazed her. She was then struck by a red Dodge Charger sedan, police said.
She was pronounced dead at the scene, police said, and all the drivers stayed at the scene.
The deadly traffic accident took place just over a week after two other pedestrians were killed less than a block away, including 9-year-old Cooper Stock, who was killed by a cab as he was crossing at West End Avenue at West 97th Street with his father, and famed Americana collector Alex Shear, 73, who was struck by a tour bus at Broadway and West 96th Streets an hour earlier, on January 10.
"It's definitely a hectic intersection. You've got to keep your head up always," said Elliot Gordon, who lives two blocks away. "The number in the past week is overwhelming."
Residents held a vigil for Cooper on Wednesday, and called for immediate changes to speed laws in the face of the recent deaths. All three victims were residents who lived locally, and all three vehicles were commercially operated.
Local resident Ruth Lippin, who lives on West 98th Street, echoed the calls by several local elected officials for major traffic pattern changes. "They've got to do something. Last week was just a tragedy," she said. "Everybody wants to make a light instead of saving a life."
As of Sunday, police said none of the drivers had been charged, though the cabbie was issued a citation for failing to yield the right of way.
Later that day, police were targeting jaywalkers at the intersection and arrested Kang Wong, 84, the New York Post reported. Wong was stopped by police for jaywalking north on Broadway to West 96th Street and when he didn't stop and then resisted arrest, leaving Wong's face bloodied, the paper reported.
He was given a ticket and allowed to return home after hours at the station house, according to the Post.
The crash was not the only pedestrian fatality over the weekend: it followed the death of Angela Hurtado, 68, who was struck and killed in Maspeth by Abel Tinoco, 28, an unlicensed driver, was making a left turn on Grand Avenue from 69th Place on Saturday morning, police said. Tinoco was arrested.
In another Queens collision an unidentified pedestrian was struck and killed at 6:50 a.m. near Union Turnpike, police said. Finally, Pedro Santiago's death in Harlem on Sunday marked the first death of a cyclist in 2014, after he was struck by an eastbound Bx15.
Council members Mark Levine and Helen Rosenthal, in a statement mentioning a co-authored letter sent to the DOT in which they requested the dangerous corridor be closely reviewed, urged for faster action Sunday. Rosenthal called the tragedies "unthinkable" and demanded "additional and more visible signage for pedestrians and drivers alike."
Levine also called for immediate fixes. "We cannot lose anymore innocent lives in this community," he said and pointed out that the letter's pleas already came too late. "After this third death, that's no longer sufficient. Immediate action needs to be taken to prevent additional fatalities or injuries."
City Comptroller Scott Stringer called the deaths "unacceptable" adding the city "must take immediate, pro-active steps to stop them."
"We know where these dangerous corridors are in all five boroughs, and we need more traffic control agents and crossing guards to police them and protect the public," he said in a statement.
The investigation into Lee's death was ongoing, police said, as well as to the victim in eastern Queens.