DNAInfo.com/By Rachel Holliday Smith
Of four fatal crashes that have occurred in the neighborhood since new penalties for drivers went into effect in 2014, none have resulted in new “Vision Zero” charges meant to increase penalties for killing pedestrians and cyclists, an analysis by DNAinfo New York found.
In two of the four fatal crashes in Crown Heights, the driver did face criminal charges. But none faced the “failure to exercise due care” charge named in Administrative Code Section 19-190, signed into law by Mayor Bill de Blasio in May 2014 as part of the citywide Vision Zero pedestrian safety initiative.
The law went into effect in August of that year, creating a new misdemeanor charge that carried a penalty of up to 30 days behind bars and a $250 fine.
Since then, only 15 percent of drivers who have killed pedestrians or cyclists across the city have been hit with the Vision Zero charge, according to an analysis by DNAinfo of city data and court records.
Those who avoided the charge include a driver who ran over and killed Rabbi Yekutiel Rapp, 66, on Empire Boulevard and Balfour Place last summer. Witnesses at the time told DNAinfo the driver backed up over the Lubavitcher rabbi three times before coming to a stop.
The driver was not arrested or charged with any crime — including the Vision Zero misdemeanor — immediately following the crash, according to a report by Streetsblog. A source close to the Rapp family said they have not been made aware of any charges in connection to the case since then.
A spokeswoman from the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office said Thursday the case is still under investigation.
An inquiry to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office about the use of the Vision Zero charges in the borough was not returned.