BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Twenty-third St. and Sixth Ave., tragically, continues to live up to its reputation as one of the city’s most dangerous intersections. A man who was struck by a cyclist there at the end of July died of his injuries earlier this week, police reported.
Police said Michael Collopy, 60, of 170 W. 23rd St., was standing in the bike lane on Sixth Ave. at 11:53 p.m. on Wed., July 31, when he was hit by a cyclist riding northbound in the lane who did not stop or remain at the scene.
Officers responding to a 911 call found Collopy at the location with head trauma. An E.M.S. ambulance transported him to Bellevue Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries on Mon., Aug. 5.
According to police, on Wed., Aug. 7, the city’s medical examiner determined his cause of death was from being struck by the cyclist. There are no arrests and the investigation is ongoing.
However, the New York Post reported that on Thursday the medical examiner said it had made no such determination, and that there was “a misunderstanding by N.Y.P.D. detectives.”
“For clarity, the cause and manner of death in this case is pending determination,” the M.E. said in a statement, the Post reported.
For the past five years, Collopy was an associate broker for residential sales with City Connections, whose office is at 71 W. 23rd St., just one block from his home and just steps away from where he was killed.
He had been a real estate broker since 2003. Prior to that, he was an auditor and also worked in finance.
Collopy was a graduate of New York University’s Stern School of Business, and got his B.A. in accounting from Fairfield University.
Collopy’s death at the dangerous intersection came slightly more than a month after Robyn Hightman, a 20-year-old bike messenger, was killed near that spot when she was riding in traffic on the avenue and hit by a truck.
David Schlamm, president of City Connections, said Collopy was single, close to his nieces and nephews, an avid Yankees fan and frequently skied in Vermont. He said no one is sure what Collopy was doing outside the office right before he was killed.
“He was a kind, generous guy,” Schlamm said.
He said the company is trying to plan a group outing to Yankees game in the late co-worker’s honor, and they hope they’ll be able to get his photo shown on a large screen. A memorial is planned at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, on Fifth Ave., on Aug. 24 at 10 a.m.
Lien Corey, an artist who lives at 21st St. and Seventh Ave., said she witnessed Collopy splayed out on the street after he was hit, as well as the accident scene in June a few hours after Hightman was fatally struck.
(Full disclosure: This writer is a friend of Corey’s and she had mentioned to him the previous Friday that she had seen a bloodied man lying in the bike lane who had been hit by a cyclist.)
She said the carnage at the deadly intersection has been taking an emotional toll on her. Every day, Corey, who is in her 60s, goes to 23rd St. and Sixth Ave. around noon to get a copy of the free Metro newspaper at the box outside the Citibank branch at the northwest corner.
“What I saw was an older man, probably in his 70s, with blood,” Corey said, “right in front of Citibank. He was, like, lying right in the bike lane…kind of a little bit diagonal, head toward Citibank. And hovering over him were, like, two bike messengers.
“I saw his jaw moving, so I said, ‘Good, he’s alive.’ I saw movement in his lower jaw,” she recalled.
Corey said after medics came to aid the man, she went to get some coffee at Starbucks on Sixth Ave. between 21st and 22nd Sts.
“I just walked away,” she said. “I couldn’t take it.”
When she returned to the spot afterward, the broker had already been taken to the hospital.
A biker herself, Corey said she was deeply affected by Hightman’s death on June 24, particularly by seeing a pool of blood on the street at the scene. Then seeing blood, once again, a month later, around the gravely injured man’s head was overwhelming for her.
“I just saw blood flowing,” she said of Collopy, “and I was absolutely distraught because when that girl died, I just cried and cried. The bike was still there [in the street], her helmet was still there, blood was still there.
“I bike all the time,” Corey said. “I thought, ‘It could be me.’ I’ve been hit a couple of times. There’s always some reckless driver. They don’t see you or they open their door and hit you.”
She said the Chelsea/Flatiron intersection simply is very dangerous, but that cyclists also must ride more carefully.
“Twenty-third and Sixth is very deadly,” she said. “These cyclists, they are either killing themselves or killing others. The messengers, they’re just trying to get where they’re going. They’re not paying attention.”
Corey said she witnessed an intense moment after leaving the scene of Hightman’s death. She went into the Doughnut Plant, the only ground-floor commercial tenant in the currently under-renovation Hotel Chelsea, to get a donut. She said the driver who hit Hightman then happened to pull up his box truck right outside the shop.
“There was a swarm of bikers and they tried to pull the guy out,” she said. “There was a lot of police and they got the bikers away. I saw the bikers. They were very, very upset.”
Corey said the fatal intersection has gotten extremely crowded due to a surge in foot traffic, which she feels is definitely a factor in the accidents and fatalities.
“I think it’s the sheer amount of people,” she said, adding, “Have you ever been on 23rd St. at lunchtime?”
With that many people, she noted, it’s simply “the law of averages” that serious problems are going to happen.
According to Streetsblog, since 2016, the intersection at W. 23rd St. and Sixth Ave. has seen six cyclists, 18 pedestrians and 15 drivers injured. The cycling-advocacy blog said that, annually, in New York City, less than one pedestrian is killed by cyclists, while 138 pedestrians are killed by cars.
In yet another traffic fatality in Chelsea, police reported that on Thurs., Aug. 8, pedestrian Iris Crespo, 77, of 60 Amsterdam Ave., was killed by a yellow cab driver at Eighth Ave. and 22nd St. at 5:02 p.m. The hack, Daniel Fusaro, 82, continued to drive north until hitting a parked car. He was charged with leaving the scene of an accident, failure to yield to a pedestrian, failure to obey a traffic signal and failure to exercise due care.
Correction: Due to incorrect information in a police report, this article initially listed Michael Collopy’s address as 170 W. 123rd St. He lived at 170 W. 23rd St.