The unlicensed driver who sped onto a Fort Greene sidewalk Sunday, killing 30-year-old Victoria Nicodemus, will face only a $500 fine and 30 days in jail — if that.
While Christmas shopping with her boyfriend, the late Nicodemus, her 37-year-old boyfriend, and a 75-year-old man were plowed down by 39-year-old Marlon Sewell, who swerved his Chevrolet SUV onto the curb at a high speed to avoid hitting a B25 bus.
Nicodemus, who died from the impact, had been a lover of the arts, pursuing her creative dreams working as a curator while living in a Brooklyn Heights brownstone.
“It’s so sad and tragic. She was just here,” a former coworker commented on Nicodemus’ profile picture, “there have been far too many pedestrians killed in what is considered a pedestrian city. I’m just glad she was having a good day, enjoying the warm weekend with her boyfriend.”
Sewell is no newcomer to having a driving record — he was arrested for unlicensed driving last March, because of failure to pay child support, according to the New York Post, and was summonsed in November for speeding in school zones three times in the course of a single week, according to Streetsblog.
His license was suspended most recently for failure to answer a traffic summons, said the Post.
Court records show that Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson has charged Sewell with aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and operating a motor vehicle while unlicensed, charges which merit only an unclassified misdemeanor and a traffic infraction for Sewell.
In many states, killing someone when driving typically leads to a charge of manslaughter, which can mean jail time. But a driver may be found not at fault if, for example, he or she swerves to avoid hitting a car that suddenly pulls into the lane.
The incident Sunday and its seemingly apparent lack of pedestrian justice comes amidst cries by local groups and impacted families that New York’s Vision Zero initiative is not doing enough to prosecute reckless driving.
A new citywide report by the non-profit Transportation Alternatives charts the amount of prosecutions in 2014 crashes where sober drivers failed to yield as compared to the amount of related injuries and deaths caused by the incidents. The results show that District Attorneys only prosecuted 38 drivers in such cases last year, despite there being nearly 6,000 injuries or deaths caused by such crashes.
The report further found that D.A.s have prosecuted less than one percent of hit-and-run drivers this year.
Despite the seeming failure to hold drivers responsible in many cases, 2015 is shaping up to be the second year in a row under Vision Zero that New York City has seen a significant dip in pedestrian fatalities. After 2013’s record-breaking 182 person toll, pedestrian deaths dipped significantly in the initiative’s first year, with 138 lives lost in 2014.
So far this year, there has been 125 pedestrian deaths, including 10 children, with 33.6 percent of the deaths occurring in Brooklyn.
[Source: Streetsblog | Photos: Facebook]