The 12-year-old victim, Dashane Santana, was crossing Delancey Street at Clinton Street near the entrance to the Williamsburg Bridge with a group of friends about 2:40 p.m. Friday when a minivan plowed into her, witnesses and the NYPD said.
The impact was loud enough to be heard inside the clothing stores that line Delancey Street, and workers and customers rushed to the windows in time to see the girl's screaming friends run to her side.
"I saw the little girl just lying in the middle of the street," said Katherine Ramirez, 18, manager of Sneak Jeans on Delancey Street. "Her sneakers came off — they were in the street."
Santana, who lived in the East Village's Jacob Riis II Houses, was transported to New York Downtown Hospital and was pronounced dead on arrival, police said.
The driver, a 58-year-old man who was heading east on Delancey Street onto the Williamsburg Bridge in a 2006 Toyota minivan, remained at the scene, and no criminality is suspected, police said.
Hours after the accident, the driver's tan minivan remained on the entrance ramp to the bridge, and two lanes onto the bridge remained closed.
The boyfriend of Santana's mother described Dashane, who attended CASTLE Middle School on Henry Street, as a talented young girl who danced, played the flute and piano, and wanted to attend the prestigious Juilliard School.
“She was very witty. She was wiser than you would expect for a 12-year-old," said Robert White, 24, from the family's home Friday night.
"The last thing she said to me was I’ll see you after school."
Dashane had a younger brother and grew up in the neighborhood her whole life, White added.
Many people who saw or heard about the accident Friday afternoon said the intersection of Delancey and Clinton Streets is unsafe. Pedestrians have just 22 seconds to cross the wide, heavily trafficked lanes that feed onto and off of the Williamsburg Bridge.
"This is death row," said Arthur Friedland, 70, who lives on Grand Street. "They're all in a hurry to get on the bridge. They're blind to anything in front of them because they want to get home."
Sal Medina, 54, who works at the newsstand at Delancey and Clinton streets, said it's almost impossible for pedestrians to make it across the entire intersection in one light cycle.
"The light is too short," he said.
White added that he's seen the dangerous conditions firsthand.
"I cross that street daily, and there’s always a car running the light," he said. "She shouldn’t have been taken like that."
Friday's accident was just the latest in a series of deadly crashes on Delancey Street over the past several years.
A cyclist was killed by at Delancey and Chrystie streets last August, and a 51-year-old woman was killed by a garbage truck at Delancey and Essex streets last May. In 2010, a man was killed by a car while crossing Delancey Street at Essex Street, and a 74-year-old cyclist was killed by a bus on Delancey Street near Ludlow Street.
In response to the accidents, and outcry from Lower East Side residents and politicians, the Department of Transportation installed countdown clocks on Delancey Street crossings last year and recently added concrete barriers around the Williamsburg Bridge entrance.
But City Councilwoman Margaret Chin said Friday that the city needs to do more.
“We need to fix Delancey Street," Chin said in the statement. "Enough is enough. We cannot allow these dangers to persist on a street that is heavily used by school children, pedestrians and seniors. The danger is all too obvious. DOT must step up and make this street safer for our community.”
State Sen. Daniel Squadron, who convened a Delancey Street Safety Working Group of community and government leaders in September, plans to hold the group's third meeting soon.
"We must continue to work together as a community to make Delancey Street safer for everyone," Squadron said in a statement.
Borough President Scott Stringer said he wants the city to increase crossing times, hire crossing guards and add signs directing pedestrians to safe crossings.
"The city must act now and not wait a second longer," Stringer said in a statement. "We can no longer go about [our] daily business with the knowledge that one of our central intersections is irrefutably perilous."
A Department of Transportation spokesman said the agency is working to address the situation on Delancey Street, noting the recent addition of more pedestrian countdown signals, increased pedestrian crossing time at four intersections, and a project with the Lower East Side BID to extend median refuge areas at two intersections.
Still, the latest tragedy came as a shock to those who knew the young girl and her family.
“[Santana] was her whole reason for living," neighbor Maggie Gonzalez, 56, said of the victim's mother. "They were always together.”