Want Tips To Catch Hit-&-Run Motorist
City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer, State Sen. Michael Gianaris and representatives of local elected officials and civic associations gathered in Long Island City last Friday, Mar. 14, to call for the public’s assistance in tracking down the driver of a hit-and-run incident that left a 64-year-old man dead.
According to police, on Mar. 8, Queens resident Kumar Ragunath was struck and killed by a darkcolored Chevy Blazer heading westbound on Northern Boulevard near 40th Road.
Ragunath’s death is the second to occur on Northern Boulevard in the last three months. According to a recent survey, over 550 people were injured on Northern Boulevard last year, at least five killed. The investigation is on-going.
“The death of Kumar Ragunath in Long Island City is a harsh reminder that we still have a way to go towards achieving our goal of zero pedestrian fatalities on our City’s streets,” said Van Bramer last Friday, Mar. 14. “Northern Boulevard is one of the borough’s deadliest stretches and making it safer for all will continue to be a priority for my office. My heart goes out to the Ragunath family for their loss. No New Yorker should ever have to suffer the same fate. For as long as this suspect who is responsible for Mr. Ragunath’s death is on the loose I will continue working with the 114th Precinct to ensure that they are apprehended and punished to the fullest extent of the law.”
“While we continue searching for the hit-and-run driver who took the life of yet another Queens resident, we already know that Northern Boulevard has claimed another life and the driver responsible fled the scene,” said State Sen. Michael Gianaris. “That is plenty to remind us how important it is that this deadly street be a focus of Vision Zero. As we keep the family of Kumar Ragunath in our thoughts and prayers, we must continue to work together to make Vision Zero a reality, including passing my legislation cracking down on chronically reckless drivers.”
Anyone with information on the case should contact the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS, or text CRIMES and then enter TIP577, or visit www.nypdcrimestoppers.com.
In January, the administration launched the Vision Zero interagency working group to develop a comprehensive roadmap for safer streets and implement Vision Zero. In an effort to lower traffic fatalities and serious injuries in Western Queens, Council Member Van Bramer’s office contacted the Department of Transportation and requested a dramatic redesign of a number of intersections and traffic corridors this year. Several dangerous intersections along Northern Boulevard were included in this list.
Currently, the Council member’s office is working with the Administration to identify the most dangerous corridors and intersections in Western Queens. Once these locations are identified and analyzed, Van Bramer is hopeful several will be chosen and incorporated into the implementation of Vision Zero.
“I would like to convey my deepest condolences to the family for their loss” said Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan “My thanks to our councilman for his work on this issue.”
During the press conference, Van Bramer and transportation advocates called for New York City’s speed camera program to be expanded. Currently, New York City’s speed camera program only has 20 speed cameras. This amount of cameras is charged with covering 2,500 public and private schools. A number which advocates feel is far too small to address the coverage area.
The governor’s current budget proposal would allow Nassau and Suffolk counties, which are much smaller than NYC, to start their program with as many as 120 speed cameras. But if NewYork City had as many cameras as Suffolk and Nassau, Van Bramer noted, the city would be granted about 350. A program that big would help create the consistent, predictable, citywide deterrent the city needs to keep New Yorkers safe.
“Albany lawmakers are currently debating how many speed and red light cameras New York City can deploy to deter reckless driving,” says Juan Martinez, general counsel for Transportation Alternatives. “The answer is that we need as many as we can get around the five boroughs, issuing citations 24 hours a day, as part of the city’s Vision Zero effort, so we can prevent unnecessarily traffic fatalities like this tragic hitand run.”
“Kumar’s death represents over 10 citizens whom were killed by hit and run drivers in the last few years in Queens,” said Cristina Furlong, of Make Queens Safer. “Without the support of our driving community as well as the needed design changes to our thoroughfares, these tragic deaths will continue to rise. On Northern Boulevard and 40th Road, specifically, out of control development needs to be met with street redesign to keep our beloved community safe. We have stood with Council Member Van Bramer at least 4 times, to honor and fight for safe streets in light of tragedy. He understands more than most the terror of reckless driving and we support all his efforts.”