Crown Heights resident Tyrik Mott, 28, was driving the wrong way on Gates Avenue this past Saturday evening when he slammed into a driver going North on Vanderbilt Avenue.
The crash sent both cars flying onto the sidewalk, where they struck a 33-year-old mother, 36-year-old man, and three-month-old child. The baby was brought to the hospital where she was pronounced dead. The mother is still in serious condition.
The deadly accident has renewed community cries for legislation that would make streets safer. On Tuesday, Borough President Eric Adams responded by holding a press conference at the crash site alongside advocacy group Transportation Alternatives and State Senator Andrew Gounardes.
“Reports indicate that this driver’s license plate correlated with 160 traffic violations since 2017, including 91 camera tickets for speeding in school zones, 35 in this year alone,” Adams said. “There was no reason this vehicle was still on the street. We need more enforcement and it must be active enforcement.”
Adams continued by reaffirming his commitment to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan for traffic safety, but insisted that additional measures are required.
The borough president discussed redesigning dangerous corridors across the city and passing city and state legislation to decrease speed limits in the five boroughs and increase the hours that school speeding cameras are allowed to record.
“School zone cameras are a powerful tool that we are only using for part of the day,” Adams explained. “Our silence is not a response.”
In addition to automatic enforcement measures, Adams called for an increased fleet of traffic officers.
“A speed camera can’t tell you if someone is intoxicated or under the influence,” Adams said. “You need a cop to do that.”
He was joined by Danny Harris from the group Transportation Alternatives, who expressed his frustration with the city’s approach to street safety.
“We’re tired of going to these vigils and telling the same story over and over again,” Harris said. “We have made street safety innovations in some corners of our city, but we don’t have the political will to bring them to the communities that need them most.”
Gounardes, who is currently working to pass a street safety bill that is stalled at the state level, also vented his frustration.
“This is a corner of chaos where a three month old died. Every single one of these deaths is preventable,” he said. “Why can’t we pass simple bills that allow New York to set its own speed limits and control its own speed cameras. It’s not just an Albany problem or a City Hall problem, we need to take action on every level.”
Gounardes continued by stating that, with more Democrats in city and state government now than eight years ago, there is more hope for tangible action than there was during the de Blasio administration.
Despite the state senator’s hopeful conclusion, the press conference unraveled when a sports car sped through a red light directly behind the podium. Members or the crowd began to chant “where are your cops now,” prompting a stern response from the Borough President.
“What we should not do is attack those of us who are on the front lines of this issue,” Adams said.
After a short Q+A session, mayoral hopeful Adams left to a mixture of clapping and booing.