Mariam Dansoko, a three-year-old girl, was crossing the street near Yankee Stadium with her mother yesterday when she noticed an approaching car. “Mommy, the car is coming,” she said. By the time her mother turned around, the driver of the oncoming Nissan Altima struck Mariam, giving her injuries that later killed her. The driver was not arrested at the scene and will likely not be charged with a crime.
Mariam and her mother were crossing East 164th Street at the time of the crash, and the car made a left turn into the crossing from Gerard Avenue. As Streetsblog points out, traffic lights at that intersection do not have a dedicated turn phase, meaning that pedestrians and turning automobiles are signaled to proceed simultaneously, and it is theoretically the driver’s responsibility to notice when pedestrians are crossing and to yield accordingly. If the car had a green light, so did Mariam and her mother. Unless they waited to enter the crosswalk until after the red hand on the sign began blinking, they had the legal right of way.
Rather than meaningfully address the cause of Mariam’s death, or the problem of pedestrian deaths in New York City at large—144 people were killed by cars while traveling on foot in 2014—the police, and the local tabloids, instead focused on the fact that the child happened to be several steps behind her mother when the driver killed her. Citing NYPD sources, the Daily News reported that Mariam was “trailing behind her mother by roughly 12 feet,” as if that distance excuses her death.
Earlier this month, a driver hit and killed an 80-year-old man who was crossing 57th street. No charges. A month before that, a driver hit and killed a 73-year-old woman on the Upper East Side. No charges. In March, the victim was a 61-year-old teacher who was using the crosswalk with the walk signal, and the driver was an on-duty cop. No charges.
You don’t need special powers or privileges to get away with murder in New York. All you need is a car.