Stop the ‘road terrorists’: Advocates demand de Blasio make streets safe after crash that killed Brooklyn infant

Protesters set up a vigil with ‘ghost strollers’ for the three-month-old killed by a driver in Brooklyn, at Union Square on Sept. 14.
Photo by Kevin Duggan

Safe street advocates urged Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday to act now and make New York City’s roads safe, days after a reckless driver killed a baby girl and injured her mother critically in a crash in Brooklyn over the weekend.

“She did nothing wrong, her parents did nothing wrong. They were just taking an evening walk, an activity that shouldn’t involve rolling the dice on your life,” said Zane Walker at a rally at Union Square Tuesday evening organized by the advocacy groups Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets.

Walker’s friend Lucian, who was 9-years-old at the time, was killed by a driver in 2013 just four blocks from the fatal Sept. 11 crash site of Gates and Vanderbilt avenues.

Brooklyn resident Tyrik Mott drove the wrong way down the Clinton Hill street and smashed into another vehicle, which jumped the curb and hit and killed 3-month-old Apolline Guillemin being pushed in a stroller by her mother Saturday evening.

The crash critically injured the 33-year-old mom and a 36-year-old man, but both are in stable condition.

Advocates held a vigil outside City Hall Tuesday morning, setting up so-called “ghost strollers” painted in all white to commemorate Apolline, and they set up a second shrine at the Union Square rally that evening. 

The Pennsylvania license plates of Mott’s car had previously racked a stunning 160 traffic violations since mid-2017, 91 of them for speeding in school zones, and one mom of a young boy killed by a driver years ago was in disbelief that the driver was still allowed on the street.

“This man had over 160 violations. How is it possible, how did this man, how is it on the street,” said Dana Lerner. “This man who killed this baby … is, in my opinion, a road terrorist.”

Lerner’s 9-year-old boy, Cooper, was fatally hit by a cab driver on the Upper West Side in 2014, and she said the government’s inability to reign in reckless drivers like those who killed Apolline made her death even more senseless.

“The man that killed Cooper, he didn’t have any violations — and that’s hell enough — but honestly, to have somebody with all of these violations kill your child, it’s worse, it’s more agonizing, it should never have happened,” she said.

The Brooklyn District Attorney slapped Mott with charges related to trying to steal the other vehicle, but has yet to bring charges directly related to the crash.

De Blasio punted to state legislators in Albany when confronted by a reporter about the crash on Sept. 13, and one advocate slammed Hizzoner for failing to take responsibility on the city level.

“Enough of the mayor blaming everybody but himself,” said Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Danny Harris. “Make no mistake, these are Mayor de Blasio’s streets, they are no one else’s. Mr Mayor, this is your problem.”

A mayoral spokesman cited de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative and his effort to reduce speed limits and install more bus and bike infrastructure.

“Vision Zero rests on a simple, powerful idea: one traffic death is too many,” said Mitch Schwartz in a statement. “We’ve reduced speed limits, built record bus and bike infrastructure, and installed the most speed cameras in America. But the job’s not done until it’s done, and we’ll fight for safer streets until the last minute of this administration.”