Woman who fatally struck Whitestone teen surrenders license, agrees to sign senior driving reform petition

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A senior woman who fatally struck a Whitestone teen after running a red light avoided jail time but will surrender her license, prosecutors announced on Thursday.

Sheila Kahn-Prager, 88, pleaded guilty to second-degree reckless endangerment before the Queens Criminal Court. She was granted a conditional discharge, meaning that if she is re-arrested within a year, she faces one year incarceration.

As a part of the discharge, Kahn-Prager also agreed to surrender her license and sign a petition urging the Department of Motor Vehicles to require retesting of elderly motorists.

At 10:30 a.m. on June 25, Kahn-Prager was driving toward the intersection of Utopia Parkway and 16th Avenue when she ignored a red light and hit 17-year-old Madeline Sershen, who was crossing Utopia Parkway with the walk light in her favor.

According to police, Sershen was hit by the front bumper and flew onto the hood of the car, striking the windshield. EMS responded tot he scene and rush Sershen to NewYork-Presbyterian Queens hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Kahn-Prager was initially taken into custody at the scene and issued a desk appearance ticket for failing to yield to a pedestrian, running a red light and failure to exercise due care.

Following Sershen’s death, an online petition was started by residents to urge the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles to mandate that all drivers 80 years old and over are retested every two years to ensure they are capable of driving safely on city streets. The petition has since received over 20,000 signatures.

On July 30, members of Sershen’s family and the community rallied in Whitestone calling for senior driver reform from the DMV.

“This was an extremely sad and tragic case. The victim was a promising young lady who would be in her final year of high school, if she were alive today,” said District Attorney Richard A. Brown. “Madeline Sershen was walking within the white lines of the crosswalk and with the green light when she was hit and fatally injured. The defendant at the time of her arrest said she didn’t see the steady red light nor the youngster crossing the street. The 88-year-old has pleaded guilty and today promised the court she would give up her license and help Sershen’s family require retesting of elderly drivers to prevent future deaths.”

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