Residents call for cameras on deadly intersection

By Sadef Ali Kully

Days after a teenage girl died in a hit-and-run commuter van accident in Rosedale, several residents and Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurleton) gathered last Friday near the scene of the incident to bring attention to the fact that there was no speed camera at one of the busiest intersections in Rosedale.

According to police, on Feb. 10 after midnight 16-year-old Alexa Smith, who lived nearby, was attempting to cross the intersection at Francis Lewis Boulevard and Sunrise Highway in Rosedale when a dark-colored commuter van fatally struck her and fled the scene, heading east on Sunrise Highway.

Emergency responders rushed Smith to Jamaica Hospital where she was pronounced dead, police said.

Police said Tuesday afternoon that the hit-and-run vehicle was a commuter van. The investigation is ongoing by the NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad.

Civic leaders, residents and Richards said there was no more information on the accident because there were no speed cameras in the area.

Richards said he would call on the Department of Transportation to add speed cameras at the intersection, which would have helped identify the perpetrator of the accident. He said additional pedestrian safety measures have also been suggested to ensure that residents will no longer have to risk their lives to cross this busy intersection.

“As Vision Zero spreads a wider net of pedestrian safety across the city, we also need the Department of Transportation to look at dangerous intersections such as right here at Sunrise and Francis Lewis,” said Richards. “This young girl’s life was tragically cut short by someone who did not even have the decency to stop to check on her or to call an ambulance.”

Civic leaders said the intersection of Francis Lewis Boulevard and Sunrise Highway has been a dangerous situation for pedestrians who struggle daily to cross the street there to get to the Rosedale LIRR station.

“This is why we need speed cameras to slow drivers down and to hold them accountable for when they break the law. We also need the DOT to look at pedestrian-focused crossing signals that will ensure that they can cross the street without having to worry about frantic drivers trying to beat the light,” he said. “We also ask anyone with information on this incident to come forward.”

Richards said the DOT has been helpful in resolving other pedestrian safety measures and flood prevention across southeast Queens and hopes the city agency will continue bringing the help his district needs.

Twenty-five-year Rosedale resident Mabel Douglas said it was a daily struggle for pedestrians crossing over to the Rosedale train station, “As the community grows, changes need to happen here,” she said. “These are kids we are talking about.”

Reach Reporter Sadef Ali Kully by e-mail at skully@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4546.