A 42-year-old woman on a bicycle was seriously injured after being struck by a driver in a dollar van near the Kings Plaza shopping center in Brooklyn on Saturday night.
As of Sunday morning, she was listed in serious, but stable condition at Kings County Hospital.
Police say the driver, a 42-year-old man, was driving a 2014 F450 dollar van with Pennsylvania plates on Avenue U at about 5:10 p.m. on March 7 when he made a right turn onto busy Flatbush Avenue.
As he did so, sources said, he veered to the right curb to pick up passenger and, in the process, struck the woman on a purple bicycle.
First responders said the van driver allegedly ran the bicyclist over, dragging the bicycle and rider under the van for a distance. Police say the driver opened the door and attempted to flee, but was tackled by civilians and held for the 63rd Precinct and Highway Patrol officers who were nearby.
Police have identified the driver as Kwadwo Fosu, 42, of 135 Ashland Place. He was being charged by the 63rd Precinct with leaving the scene of an accident, aggravated unlicensed driver, failure to yield to bicyclist, failure to use due care.
The victim’s long-term prognoses is not clear. Police officials initially described her condition as life-threatening, but other law enforcement ages indicated she was “likely to lose her leg,” but declined to say anything more about her condition.
According to witnesses, police handcuffed the driver and took him to the 63rd Precinct. Highway Collision Investigation detectives were on the scene tonight probing the cause of the crash. State Police were also on scene assisting with the traffic.
One witness said she saw the victim and “she didn’t look too good. She was unconscious and she had a sheet on her legs.”
Another witnesses, who didn’t give his name, said the bicycle rider screamed at the dollar van driver a few seconds before for coming close to her on the bicycle and then ran her over. It’s not clear, at this point in the investigation, if there was any malicious intent on the driver’s part.
Frank Grecco of Kings Pastrami, just off the corner, watches the vans all day during his shift.
“They come around the corner all the time, they do drive mostly cautious, but I guess things happen,” Grecco said. “He was probably in a rush. This corner they are always turning here. I don’t live around here, but I see them come around that corner they are just trying to make a buck.”
But Highway cops say many of these drivers are a nuisance and they ticket them for many different infractions.
“Some of them drive crazy and they scatter when they see us,” one officer said of some dollar van drivers. “I’m sure things are going to get tough for them after this one.”
There have been numerous crashes along Flatbush Avenue other areas where the dollar vans operate. The current vans are rated as buses and are frequently checked by TLC officers and NYPD Highway Patrol for vehicle safety and for traffic infractions.
Three weeks ago, police were looking for the driver of a dollar van that struck a vehicle, first on Avenue U, and then ran and ended its run on Schnectady Avenue in Flatlands, where he ran away. Luckily, no injuries were reported, but damage to the cars and the van was considered extensive, police from the 63rd Precinct said.
This past October, the City Council was considering three bills that would remake the commuter van industry.
The vans often work in transit-starved areas in Brooklyn and Queens. Some work legally, others illegally. Many are known to connect immigrant communities via routes that are quicker and cheaper than taking the subway.
The proposed City Council legislation includes a study of safety issues in the industry that would suspend new licenses until the analysis was complete — such as data on safety violations and illegal vans.
Other bills would let vans operate on routes rather than prearranged trips, and raise the civil penalties on vans not licensed by the city.
A federal judge recently ruled that the TLC could not seize cars and vans believed to be illegally offering transit services.