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Hit-and-Run driver could be first to face Vision Zero fines

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A weekend hit-and-run collision in the Bronx has one city councilman in Queens reminding his constituents of stiff new civil penalties under a new Vision Zero law.

Shawn Williams, 26, was arrested on charges of fleeing the scene after allegedly hitting 16-year-old Dylon Ramirez, who died, and a 15-year-old girl who were walking home from church.

In addition to potential jail time, Williams faces a $10,000 fine under the new “Justice for Hit-and-Run Victims Act” that became law this week.

“This will save lives by deterring those who would think to flee the scene of a collision and leave a fellow New Yorker to die in the street,” the act’s co-author, Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), said. “I was moved to introduce this bill in response to the death of three people who were killed in my district by drivers who fled the scene.”

Van Bramer remembered Luis Bravo in Woodside, Kumar Ragunath and Karen Pheras when the bill was passed in September.

“We will never know if one or all of our fellow New Yorkers could have been saved had the drivers done the right thing: stop their car, call 911 and get assistance,” Van Bramer said.

The passage of the legislation came five days before the one-year anniversary of Louis Bravo’s death. The 19-year-old was killed on Broadway in Woodside by a hit-and-run driver.

“This law gives parents the ability to trust that the authorities will hold drivers accountable for their actions and help ensure no family ever has to suffer the pain of losing a loved one,” Bravo’s mother, Marta Puruncajas, said.

Safe streets advocates praised the new law and are confident it will help save lives.

“The (law) will help bring answers and resolution to people affected by this particularly heinous form of traffic violence,” Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White said. “By compelling drivers involved in collisions to stay at the scene and provide information to officers it will bring the city closer to the goal of Vision Zero by delivering aid to the victims, and by deterring the kind of reckless driving that leads to crashes in the first place.”

Dr. Laura Newman, who co-founded Make Queens Safer last year, said, “In Queens alone, six pedestrians and cyclists were killed in 2014 by hit-and-run drivers; Karol Grzegorczyk, Kaneez Hussain, Mosa Khatun, Kumar Ragunath, Wayne White, and an unnamed cyclist. Many others have been injured. We applaud this (law), as it will serve as a motivator to drivers to do the right thing—call for emergency services and law enforcement if you are involved in a motor vehicle crash.”

In an effort to continue cracking down on reckless drivers, Van Bramer has introduced two additional bills which propose to increase civil penalties for repeat offenders who leave the scene of a hit-and-run collision as well as require the city to report violations under the “Justice for Hit-and-Run Victims Act.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

Posted 12:00 am, January 12, 2015
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Reader feedback

at least they are in the street from Queens says:
Nice that the mayor is trying to stop cars from hitting pedestrians in the street. But how about doing something to stop mainly foreigners from driving on sidewalks. They do not want to go around when it is a one way street so they drive the wrong way on the sidewalk instead. Don't try to walk in front of the Bally (now 24hr fitness) in Little Neck. Cars go in front, can't find parking, duck into the gas station on the corner and then drive on the sidewalk back to the gym parking lot. Also an idiot on a motorcycle has been doing this for years but he parks his motorcycle on the sidewalk in front of the gym.
Jan. 14, 2015, 11:38 am
Alex from Queens Village says:
Yeah well , the DOT has done little to alleviate traffic and congestion in nyc, and is promoting bike lanes that do worse, bikers are not supposed to drive on streets anyways. They could build better traffic lights, faster speed limits, and more highways and lanes. Not every part of nyc is manhattan. They could build overpasses above highways.

Do you see the statement from "transportation alternatives" an anti-car organization, I didn't even realize they were quoted while making the first comment above, turns out I was right.

Did the law prevent the tragedy, nope. Often times bike drivers are illegal immigrants making food deliveries. By the way I bet there are probably many illegal immigrants or illegally zoned apartments and homes which makes overcrowding worse in those areas.
Feb. 12, 2015, 6:41 am
Karen Ramirez from Bronx says:
Thank you for the new law however, I wish we had my nephew Dylon Ramirez back. I am sure my sister in law appreciates what you have done.
July 5, 2015, 12:57 am

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