A lawfirm representing the family of a Rego Park woman killed on Queens Boulevard in February is taking civil action against the city seeking reparations for unsafe conditions they allege led to the victim’s death.
Prakash and Bina Hundalani are seeking damages of $25 million after 26-year-old Sherena was hit by a cab that was allegedly driving on the sidewalk on February 24, yet no charges have been filed against the operator.
Joshpe Mooney Paltzik, the legal firm representing the Hundalanis, issued a statement that alleged the taxi driver, Lakhvinder Singh, was using a Mobile Station at 63rd Street as an illegal turnaround and struck Sherena from behind.
Singh was said by police to have left the scene before later claiming vehicle malfunction, according to the attorneys, and that the cabbie is still being investigated by the Queens District Attorney’s office with no charges at this time.
“For far too long, the taxi lobbying class has worked hard to keep taxi and limousine insurance requirements shockingly and unacceptably low, leaving victims’ families, like the Hundalani family, with badly injured or dead children and grossly insufficient compensation for their losses,” the legal firms statement read. “Bill de Blasio has wasted billions of dollars of taxpayer funds on the Vision Zero advertising boondoggle supposedly designed to make the City’s streets safer. At the same time, the City government has opened the streets and sidewalks to reckless, unlicensed, and uninsured bicyclists—many of which are motorized—and more underinsured TLC vehicles than ever before.”
The firm claims that taxis commonly pull this maneuver at the Mobile station at the intersection where Hundalini was waiting for the crosswalk when the unimaginable took place.
“We are devastated beyond words by the loss of our beautiful Sherena,” the Hundalanis said in a statement. “Everyday since her death has been a struggle. We are grateful to so many friends who have supported us and expressed their love for our daughter, but there must be accountability when an innocent young woman is killed by a taxi licensed by the City of New York while standing on the sidewalk of all places.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio raised the ire of transit advocates on April 18 after claiming on the Brian Lehrer show that cars rarely drive on sidewalks, leading to contesting tweets under the rally cry of #CarsOnSidewalks.
“You don’t see cars drive on the sidewalk a whole lot, or go the wrong way down the street a whole lot as a matter of course, some do it and they caught a lot of the time, or God forbid there’s an accident,” de Blasio said in regard to the supposed dangers of e-bikes.
But the Hundalani’s situation would not be the first incident in recent memory where a driver was struck by a motorist who was driving on the sidewalk.
In June of 2018, 4-year-old Luz Gonzalez was killed as an SUV was leaving an illegal parking lot by driving over the sidewalk in Bushwick.
While the illegal parking lot was shut down by the city Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez never filed charges against the driver of the Nissan Rogue who also struck the girl’s mother, although she is said to have left the scene.
An online petition calling for the driver, Jeanette Maria, to be arrested gathered 46,561 signatures, however no charges were filed.