By Bill Parry
In the wake of another fatal traffic crash in Long Island City, state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) is urging action, calling on the Assembly to pass his legislation to penalize reckless motorists.
The collision occurred May 29 around 3 p.m. as a cyclist identified as Aaron Padwee, 45, was traveling on 21st Street and 46th Avenue when a car door suddenly swung open in front of him. Padwee crashed into the door and fell into the street, where he was struck by a box truck driven by Agustin Osorio, 32, and later died of his injuries, police said.
Paramedics rushed Padwee to New York-Presbyterian/Queens Hospital in Flushing, where he was pronounced dead. Both the truck driver and the operator of the parked vehicle remained at the scene and Osorio was arrested by the NYPD and charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle in the third degree, a misdemeanor, for allegedly driving his vehicle without a valid license, police said.
“While we are still learning the details of this horrific crash, we know that not enough is being done to deliver justice to the victims of traffic crashes,” Gianaris said. “Dangerous, suspended drivers pose a threat to public safety due to laws that do not treat these offenses seriously enough. If this driver’s suspension was due to reckless driving, we face another preventable tragedy. We must be serious about strengthening our laws to keep these menaces off the road.”
Gianaris introduced legislation that would increase the penalty to a class E felony for seriously injuring a person and a class D felony if the collision resulted in death, with a maximum penalty of seven years in prison. The most severe penalty a distinct attorney currently can seek in such instances is a misdemeanor, according to Gianaris. Convicted drivers are rarely sentenced to any jail time at all and they are free to commit additional offenses. Over the last few years there have been numerous deaths at the hands of reckless drivers in western Queen alone,
Gianaris’ bill unanimously passed the New York State Senate in April and is awaiting action in the Assembly. Meanwhile, Rego Park attorney Peter Beadle, a street safety advocate with Transportation Alternatives and a member of Community Board 6 pointed out the driver of the vehicle that “doored” Padwee off of his bicycle should have been issued a ticket for violating a code which mandates that drivers not open their doors until it is safe to do so. Another prohibits drivers from exiting their vehicle in a way that would interfere with an approaching vehicle or bicycle.
“Drivers absolutely have a legal responsibility to look before opening their doors and attempting to exit their vehicle,” Beadle said. “This is one of the most common ways for cyclists to be hurt, and in this case tragically killed. So yes, the police should have issued tickets for violating the Vehicle and Traffic Law and the Rules of the City of New York, and for violating the cyclist’s right of way. Moreover, as it contributed to the cyclist’s death, I would hope the DA investigates to determine whether the opening of the door was so reckless that even higher charges might be appropriate.”
The NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad is continuing to look into the case.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr