Astoria electeds ask public to help find driver in 21st St. hit-and-run

By Bill Parry

Police and stakeholders in the community were still searching for the driver of a silver four-door sedan that killed a 45-year-old man in Astoria last week, the NYPD said

Surveillance video shows the man, whose name has not been released, crossing 21st Street just north of 30th Avenue when the collision occurred April 6. The driver sped away southbound on 21st Street. First responders arrived on the scene and discovered the victim lying in the roadway with severe trauma to the body. He was rushed to Elmhurst Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead, authorities said.

Last Friday, elected officials and community activists in Astoria gathered at the intersection and asked for the public’s help in finding the driver.

“There is video of the incident, but the 114th Precinct has no license plate and no identity,” Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) said. “Anyone who saw something, we’re asking them to please, please come forward. Give information anonymously and make sure this killer is brought to justice and make our streets safer.”

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), who represents part of 21st Street, joined Constantinides and state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) in calling on the Department of Transportation to review safety concerns at the intersection.

“I just crossed 21st Street coming here and it feels dangerous every time I do,” Van Bramer said. “The DOT needs to do something about this right away.”

NYPD data shows that the intersection was the scene of 10 crashes in 2015, one of which left a pedestrian injured and one that left a cyclist injured. There is no crosswalk or stop sign at the intersection on a thoroughfare that carries 1,000 vehicles an hour, according to the Department of Transportation, many of them racing between the RFK and Queensboro bridges.

Constantinides has been requesting traffic-calming measures at the intersection since he took office in 2014 because of the proximity of schools, housing, and the Variety Boys & Girls club.

“We advise all of our children to avoid this intersection,” Variety Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Matthew Troy said. “In addition to the latest incident, we are aware of multiple serious car accidents that occurred at this same location within the past six months. On behalf of the hundreds of children and their families that attend the Variety Boys & Girls Club each day, we urge the city to immediately install a crosswalk and traffic signal.”

A DOT spokesman said the agency studied the location for a traffic light in the past and decided against installing one.

“Although it did not meet the criteria at the time, we are taking another look at the intersection for potential safety enhancement,” he said.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr[email protected]local.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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