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Art Honoring Woman Killed in Fort Greene Crash Unveiled During Vigil

By  William Mathis Camille Bautista and Ben Fractenberg | December 22, 2015 8:51pm | Updated on December 23, 2015 11:31am

 Dozens of people showed up for a vigil for Victoria Nicodemus in Fort Greene Monday evening, Dec. 21, 2015. Nicodemus was killed after being struck by a truck on Fulton Street in early December. 
Victoria Nicodemus Vigil
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FORT GREENE — The mother and brothers of a Brooklyn Heights art curator fatally hit by an unlicensed driver who jumped the curb on Fulton Street earlier this month called for increased justice against reckless drivers during Tuesday night's unveiling of an art exhibit at the crash site.

"Victoria was many things: brilliant and creative, caring and compassionate, but most of all, she was loved," said Victoria Nicodemus' brother Hank Miller who joined his brother and mother at the event.

The artwork, titled "Safe City," at the corner of South Portland Avenue and Fulton Street, is made up of a double-sided barrier adorned with artist Mark Samsonovich's illustration of an owl carrying a sleeping woman on his back, as well as a roped-off section designed to warn drivers to proceed with caution.

Nicodemus was Christmas shopping with her boyfriend Dec. 6 when SUV driver Marlon Sewell swerved to avoid a car and a bus and careened onto the sidewalk, hitting them and another pedestrian.

Attendees Tuesday gathered near a large, framed picture of the 30-year-old, holding candles and signs reading, “We Need Safer Streets” and “We Want Vision Zero.”

Nicodemus' brother Peter Miller said his sister was not one to let things go, adding that one of her most commonly-used phrases was, "It's not OK."

“It’s not OK that the sidewalks are not sacred space," Peter Miller said as he called for stronger laws to prosecute reckless drivers.

Friends, family, and supporters lit candles and placed flowers Tuesday near the site where Victoria Nicodemus was fatally struck by an SUV on Dec. 6. Photo credit: DNAinfo/William Mathis

Elected officials and Nicodemus’ family joined Indiewalls representatives in revealing the installation.

“She understood the power of art,” Samsonovich said, adding that he had shown Nicodemus the concept used in the installation a few days before the deadly crash.

“She could be honest with me, and that allowed us to move forward and achieve a common goal of putting art in public places.”

The artwork will remain on the corner, serving as a remembrance of Nicodemus and also an interactive call to action for pedestrian safety, according to attendees and Indiewalls representatives.

The art group hopes to have the artwork permanently installed someday on a building facing the intersection, said Gavi Wolf, CEO of Indiewalls.

Relatives and elected officials called to increase penalties against unlicensed drivers and those with revoked or suspended licenses.

"This is a situation that should have never happened, and all the red flags that one could possibly need were visible," said Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo.

Sewell was arrested after the collision and charged with driving without a license or insurance. He was released without bail after his arraignment and declined to speak with reporters.

"He needs to be prosecuted," said Public Advocate Letitia James, who attended the vigil. "He put himself before her, and for that, there should be consequences."

Assemblyman Robert Mosley, who clasped Nicodemus' mother's hands as she begged him to "change the law," said Sewell needs to be held accountable.

"We can't legislate behavior," he said. "What we can do is keep people honest and punish them."

Mayor Bill de Blasio enacted stiffer charges for drivers under his Vision Zero plan, including making failing to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk a criminal offense. 

“It could be any one of us," Hank Miller said. "We urge drivers to slow down."