Manslaughter charge for driver in cyclist Jose Alzorriz’s death

A car crash killed cyclist Jose Alzorriz at the intersection of Coney Island Avenue and Avenue L in Brooklyn on Aug. 11.  Photo Credit: Google Maps

Mirza Baig of Queens faces multiple charges after police said he ran a red light and set off a chain-reaction crash that killed Alzorriz, the 19th cyclist to die on city streets this year.

A car crash killed cyclist Jose Alzorriz at the intersection of Coney Island Avenue and Avenue L in Brooklyn on Aug. 11. 
A car crash killed cyclist Jose Alzorriz at the intersection of Coney Island Avenue and Avenue L in Brooklyn on Aug. 11.  Photo Credit: Todd Maisel

The driver involved in the crash that killed cyclist Jose Alzorriz in Midwood has been arrested and charged with manslaughter, police said.

Police say Mirza Baig, 18, of Rego Park, Queens, was behind the wheel of the speeding Dodge Charger that slammed into a Honda SUV at the intersection of Coney Island Avenue and Avenue J on Aug. 11. The collision sent the Honda hurtling toward Alzorriz, who was fatally struck while waiting on his bike for a green light at the intersection. 

Widely circulated video from the crash shows the Charger traveling south on Coney Island Avenue when it ran a red light and T-boned the Honda with enough force to send the Honda drastically off course. Baig was allegedly driving 61 miles per hour in a 25 mile-per-hour zone at the time of the impact, according to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office.

“This tragic case illustrates the dangers faced by cyclists and pedestrians when drivers choose to recklessly ignore the rules of the road. I urge all motorists to obey the speed limit, follow all traffic laws and yield the right of way to those who share our streets," said Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez in a statement. "If they don’t, they might take a life in an instant — and face serious criminal charges. 

Alzorriz was the 19th cyclist to die on city streets this year — a significant increase from the 10 cycling deaths in all of 2018. The incident has outraged public officials and advocates who have said the city has not done enough to calm traffic and create safe cycling infrastructure in southern Brooklyn neighborhoods like Midwood. A petition was launched calling for a complete safety overhaul of Coney Island Avenue.

A spokesman for the city’s Department of Transportation said the city will be adjusting signal timing on the avenue next month and has begun immediately studying short- and long-term improvements for the popular north-south Brooklyn avenue.

Both Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and State Sen. Andrew Gounardes praised the arrest. Adams called for a quick Coney Island Avenue redesign while Gounardes said there should be greater accountability among reckless motorists.

 "[T]his should not be an exception to the rule," Gounardes said in a statement. "Our city’s unofficial policy for too long has been that no matter how reckless, dangerous and harmful a person’s driving, there will never be consequences and oftentimes the driver will remain on the road. That needs to change. I stand ready to work with community members and other elected officials to change the law so that drivers who kill or gravely injure others no longer enjoy impunity."

Baig faces multiple charges, including manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, vehicular assault, reckless endangerment, assault, reckless driving and various traffic violations.

Vincent Barone