By Yvette Brown
On Thursday, state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) along with other elected officials and members of the community gathered on the corner of Northern and Junction boulevards to demand additional street safety measures after a Tuesday hit-and-run ended in the death of 17-year-old Ovidio Jaramillo.
Assembly members Jeffrion Aubry (D-Corona), Michael DenDekker (D-East Elmhurst) and Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) as well as Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (D-East Elmhurst), Deputy Inspector Brian Hennessy of the 115th Precinct, Cristina Furlong of Make Queens Safer, Jaime Moncayo of the Transportation Alternatives and Jaramillo’s family were all in attendance during this press conference.
“The [Department of Transportation] is the City’s expert on road and street safety, so they are best fit to orchestrate this public awareness campaign, so long as New Yorkers in all five boroughs get the message that distracted walking is unsafe walking,” said Peralta. “We can’t always protect the public against reckless drivers and their bad decisions, but we must ensure that we all work together to reduce the odds of pedestrians falling victim to unsafe motorists.”
Jaramillo was hit at the intersection by the driver of a black Toyota Camry at around 10:50 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 8. In 2013. 3-year-old Jahir Figueroa was killed after being hit by a car in the same intersection.
This year, there have been 25 accidents at that intersection, which left one person dead and eight of them injured. Between 2012 and 2015, the intersection has seen more than 100 accidents which resulted in more than 30 injuries, according to the New York City Police Department.
“I urge the driver of the car involved to turn him or herself in to the Police at once. If the public has any information regarding the hit-and-run, please let the authorities know. As always, if you see something, say something,” said Peralta.
Elected officials echoed Peralta’s statement.
DenDekker focused on his idea for changing traffic signals.
“I have been saying for years now the city of New York must change the lighting system so that when pedestrians are crossing the street all cars should have red lights and be fully stopped,” he said. “As for the driver, I suggest you turn yourself in immediately, otherwise when you are caught, and you will be caught, this community will encourage that you are sentenced to the maximum allowed under current law.”
“Ovidio Jaramillo should not have lost his life,” said Moya. “It is in his name that we will fight for safer streets. Traffic-related deaths are avoidable. It’s time for our streets to be safe for all New Yorkers—pedestrians, drivers, and cyclists alike. As a strong supporter of Vision Zero, I have worked in Albany to bring more speed cameras to our streets and championed a reduced speed limit. I believe that safety must come first, so that no more lives are lost because of reckless drivers.”
“I urge residents of Corona and Jackson Heights to be conscience of the speed limit as they drive on Northern Boulevard and anywhere,” said Ferreras-Copeland. “Now more than ever, I ask this community to join me as I work with the Department of Transportation and NYPD to improve the safety of pedestrians, cyclist and drivers in our district. My heart goes out to Jaramillo’s mother and grandmother. I can’t imagine what it must be like to lose your only child.”
Peralta announced that he has introduced legislation mandating that the DOT create a public awareness campaign relative to the dangers of being a distracted pedestrian. There has been a similar campaign introduced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo called “Don’t Text and Drive,” which is aimed at alerting motor vehicle operators about the increased likelihood of traffic accidents due to distractePeralta called for the installation of speed cameras along Northern Boulevard because of how busy the street is, especially since it cuts across the borough. Under the Vision Zero plan, Northern Boulevard from 114th Street to 40th Road is now an “arterial slow zone,” which is an action that reduced the local speed limit on the thoroughfare from 30 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour. The Senator pointed out that there is a speed light camera at 114th Street and red light cameras at 108th Street and 84th Street.
Reach Yvette Brown at (718)357-7400 ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @eveywrites.