City Council Brad Lander (D-Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington) hailed today’s arrest of the driver that blew through a red light on March 5 into a busy Park Slope cross walk full of pedestrians, killing two children Abigail Blumenstein, 4, and Joshua Lew, 1, and injured Abigail’s pregnant mom.
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez charged the driver Dorothy Bruns, 44, of Staten Island, with manslaughter among other charges in a 10-count indictment in the incident.
Bruns, who suffered a seizure at the time of the collision, was instructed not to drive after being hospitalized less than two months earlier. She is facing up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the top count of second-degree manslaughter.
“I’m genuinely grateful to DA Gonzalez and his team, and to the NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad, for moving promptly and thoroughly to seek justice for Abigail and Joshua and our community, and to insist on accountability for criminally reckless driving that kills New Yorkers,” said Lander.
“All too often, there is neither justice nor accountability for reckless drivers who kill or seriously injure our neighbors. The state laws are weak, investigations receive too little priority, we fail to connect the dots to drivers’ prior dangerous driving. Investigations can drag on for many months, and in most cases the driver continues to drive without limitation, even when their record makes clear they are a hazard. In too many cases, charges are never even brought,” he added.
In bringing the charges, Gonzalez noted that according to witnesses, the defendant allegedly had her head hanging back when she drove into the intersection and first responders observed her to be foaming from the mouth, confused and unsteady on her feet.
The investigation revealed that on January 8, 2018, the defendant had a medical episode while driving her car on Staten Island and was subsequently hospitalized for two days, during which time she suffered a seizure. She was instructed not to drive for one year due to her medical condition upon her discharge and again during follow up appointments on January 16 and February 13, according to the evidence.
“The loss of Abigail and Joshua was a horrific – and avoidable – tragedy that devastated their loved ones and hurt so many of their friends and neighbors. After a thorough investigation that started in the hours after the crash, my office indicted the driver for recklessly causing their deaths. Her alleged insistence on driving despite doctor’s orders and serious medical conditions that prevented her from safely doing so was not only irresponsible, it was unlawful. I intend to now hold her accountable and urge all drivers to heed instructions of medical professionals and never drive a car when told not to,” said Gonzalez.
Lander vowed, as promised in March, to make the intersection — and all of 9th Street — safer. “There have been other fatal and serious crashes here and along the corridor. We’ll never know whether Abigail and Joshua might have been saved from Bruns’ criminal driving by better street design. But we do know we can prevent crashes and save lives by doing so,” he said.
I’ve been speaking regularly to NYC Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. She and her team have been developing proposals to make 9th Street safer, to address double-parking, failure-to-yield, swerving, and speeding. They are continuing conversations with stakeholders this month, and they have committed to present a proposal (or possibly a couple of options) to Community Board 6 and the public in June,” the lawmaker added.