Police arrested a Brooklyn man on Tuesday more than four months after he allegedly hit a cyclist in a Williamsburg bike lane and fled, leaving the biker to die.
The hit-and-run sparked backlash from transportation advocates who criticized the NYPD for issuing summonses to cyclists in the bike lane after the incident, rather than make a quick arrest.
Juan Maldonado, 56, was charged in an 8-count indictment with second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and leaving the scene of an accident, and arrested at his Williamsburg home at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, just under a mile from where he allegedly ran over 35-year-old Matthew Von Ohlen on Grand Street, near Manhattan Avenue.
Maldonado was accused of swerving into the bike lane, speeding through a red light and then mowing down Von Ohlen as he peddled inside the designated lane just after 2:30 a.m. on July 2, according to prosecutors.
He then dragged Von Ohlen 10 to 20 feet as he sped away, prosecutors said, adding that part of the incident was caught on surveillance video.
Maldonado was apparently driving a black Chevy Camaro sedan with tinted windows at the time.
Von Ohlen was taken to Bellevue Hospital Center where he was pronounced dead.
A combination of tips and other evidence connecting him to the Camaro led to Maldonado’s arrest, a police source said.
“A young man who was an active member of Brooklyn’s biking community lost his life because a speeding driver struck him in a designated bike lane and sped away,” Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said in a statement. “This was not an accident, but rather a reckless act for which we intend to hold this defendant accountable.”
Maldonado held in lieu of $100,000 bail at his arraignment in Brooklyn Supreme Court on Tuesday, according to Gonzalez’s office. If convicted of the top charge, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
Following the incident, advocates at Transportation Alternatives said police went to the corner where Von Ohlen was killed to issue summonses to cyclists, questioning the department’s priorities.
Just days later, the city released data from its second Bicycle Safe Passage initiative, a weeklong ticketing blitz that took place at the end of June.
During that time, police throughout the city issued a total of 1,757 tickets to drivers for blocking bike lanes and 810 summons for motorists who failed to yield to bicyclists and pedestrians.
On Tuesday, Paul Steely White, the executive director for Transportation Alternatives, called the incident “a heinous hit-and-run” and said he was “relieved” that Maldonado was indicted.
“It is also a positive sign that the District Attorney’s office is addressing the role of speeding, which remains the leading cause of traffic deaths across the five boroughs two years after the City adopted a safer 25 mph speed limit,” White said in a statement. “The driver’s deadly violation of Matthew von Ohlen’s right of way in a designated bike lane is also indicative of a problem that is all too common and can no longer be tolerated.”
Austin Finan, a spokesman for Mayor Bill de Blasio, said that the administration is “pleased” that an arrest has finally been made.
“The NYPD commits a tremendous amount of resources into investigating crashes where cyclists are seriously injured or killed,” Finan said in a statement. “We are pleased that an arrest has been made after a lengthy and exhaustive effort to find the perpetrator.”