Tragic death of child pedestrian in Harlem raises safety concerns anew

The sad death of a six-year-old on his way to school who was run over by a semi truck in East Harlem on February 28, 2013, has raised emotions and highlighted the awareness of New Yorkers to the dangers associated with living in a huge city. Little Amar Diarassoubba was reportedly in the crosswalk with his nine-year-old brother a half block from his school when the first grader was run over by the back wheels of the truck.

The morning rush-hour truck-pedestrian accident is still under investigation so many of the details are unknown and although some have been reported, many questions exist – one being, where was the crossing guard who was apparently missing from the site? And where was the truck driver, who claimed that he did not even know that he struck the child until he was flagged down, looking? It has also been reported that the daily presence of large food delivery trucks in the neighborhood has been controversial.

The New York Times reports that the truck driver received traffic citations for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk and for failing to drive with due care, and that the crossing guard has been suspended without pay, but that both are unlikely to be charged with any crimes.

Systemic issues

SchoolBook reports that two recent studies suggest that East Harlem, especially the area around the victim’s school, may have a high concentration of child pedestrian traffic accidents with resultant child injuries and deaths. Many media reports have described an ongoing controversy as to whether the New York Police Department has worked hard enough to prevent, investigate and charge those at fault for pedestrian traffic accidents with crimes and traffic infractions.

According to the New York Times, since this accident, elected officials have been calling publicly for “new traffic-calming measures from the city”.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 50 percent of kids in fatal pedestrian accidents with cars die from traumatic brain injuries. The CDC reportsthat children are at increased risk of such accidents in part because of their smaller statures, propensity to dart out into traffic and less sophisticated perception of traffic danger.

Regardless, the characteristics of child pedestrians are obvious and drivers on busy city streets, especially those operating large vehicles, owe a duty of care to keep children safe by driving reasonably and in accordance with traffic laws.

If your child is seriously injured or killed in New York City because of being struck by a motor vehicle, you should discuss the situation with an experienced motor vehicle accident attorney as soon as possible after the accident. A lawyer experienced in the handling of motor vehicle accident cases can advise you of your legal rights and potential remedies such as bringing a personal injury lawsuit. If the driver was negligent or reckless, or violated any state or local traffic laws, that evidence will be important in your case. A knowledgeable lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation to obtain the proof necessary to prove your case and maximize the recovery.

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