Family Seeks Answers In Brooklyn Artist’s Hit-And-Run Death

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The family of a bicyclist fatally struck by a truck in a hit-and-run in Brooklyn last week wants justice.

A deeply dissatisfied and dismayed Erika Lefevre is demanding someone be held accountable for her son’s death.

Artist Mathieu Lefevre, 30, was struck and killed by a flatbed truck last Wednesday while riding his bike at Meserole Street and Morgan Avenue in Williamsburg.

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg with Erika Lefevre

“My family wants to know what were the circumstances, what happened there? I have been to the scene of the accident twice now,” Lefevre said. “We need to know, it is very important that we know the circumstances of my son’s death.”

The truck driver reportedly left the scene of the accident later claiming he didn’t know he struck Mathieu. Police determined no criminality was involved and charges will not be filed.

“If I am driving a vehicle and there’s a cyclist, if I hit him – whether I am aware of it or not – it still is my fault,” Lefevre said.

Lefevre claims the NYPD has kept her in the dark regarding the investigation and tells Gothamist that she has learned most of the information through the media. She said she read in a newspaper that police wouldn’t be pressing charges.

Paul Steely White of Transportation Alternatives said sadly, Lefevre’s story is common.

“This is an epidemic on our streets, and the NYPD is ignoring it. Ray Kelly is ignoring it. Mayor Bloomberg is ignoring it,” White said. “The New York Police Department has consistently failed to file charges against drivers for their lethal behavior.”

He is demanding Bloomberg and Kelly take action, saying that they are “failing to hold accountable drivers who are killing and injuring New Yorkers with impunity.”

According to Transportation Alternatives, drivers have killed four bicyclists in Williamsburg since August.

  • cynthia dallou

    Justice must be served.The driver is guilty and he know’s it .May he be haunted for the ret of his life. Love to Mathieu from the mother of a friend of his.

  • Brownstone6

    The bike haters – including the police – come at these crashes with a predictable story line: the cyclist was overtaking the truck from the right, the cyclist had no lights, the cyclist had no helmet, and the cyclist was an aggressive jerk who never follows the traffic law.

    As to who passed who first, the cyclist is dead, there seem to be no witnesses and the police refuse to investigate. Sure, some cyclists will enter an intersection along the right side of a truck – and they are very uneducated. But actually, more often, the truck is speeding up the street behind the cyclist, driving well out to the left, overtakes the cyclist just feet from the intersection, and then suddenly turns right across the cyclists path. The truck driver should have no problem seeing a cyclists he is overtaking, slow down and wait for the turn to be clear. That is what traffic law requires – turning vehicles yield right of way to straight through traffic, and that straight traffic includes pedestrians and bicyclists. Too many truck drivers see cyclists and deliberately fail to slow and yield, forcing the cyclist to stop and yield – it’s assault on the cyclist.

    Two years ago a NYC Fireman was nearly killed by a right turning bus – the bus turned from two lanes out to the left. There is no way that the driver should have been turning from that far out, no way to have failed to see the fireman, and no way for the cyclist to have predicted or avoided that crash.

    That bus driver was under one of 3 D’s: Drink, Distracted, or Deliberately Aggressive.
    What was the excuse by this truck driver?

    Cyclists are, by law, supposed to stay to the right and not unnecessarily interfere with faster straight through traffic. So when a truck passes to your left at high speed as you both approach the corner, a cyclist assumes that the truck will be continuing through the next intersection without turning. If you are driving a car in the right lane, do you expect the driver in the left lane to suddenly turn right right in front of you? There are rules of the road about this, and cyclists have the same right to assume that vehicles that overtake them from the left will not suddenly cut them off.

    Have the police make any effort to investigate who was entering the intersection first. Hell no.

    In this case, the cyclist was experience and known to use lights and a helmet. The Police have been refusing to return either the bike or the helmet to the family. Examining a wrecked bike may not prove if it had lights – they may have been knocked off or removed, but if they are there – the bike was lit up. Does the bike, helmet or clothing have reflectors which make the bike much easier to see at night from a distance. We don’t know. Helmets can mitigate some injury – but they are not required by law and they won’t protect you from being crushed under a trucks wheels. But this cyclist usually used a helmet. Why isn’t it returned?

    If the police won’t produce the bike or the helmet – after abandoning and closing the case against the truck driver, what are the cops hiding. Or are they just that callus or so incompetent that they can’t keep track of two belongings of a dead man?

    As to the cyclist being overly aggressive, the smartest move would have been to take the roadway lane and have the truck wait behind to turn. But most motorists would call this aggressive cycling – blocking the roadway lane.
    By riding in the right side of the lane, this cyclist was not being aggressive, but allowing motor traffic to pass freely to his left. The other half of that bargain is that the overtaking traffic has the responsibility to pass safely with enough room and not cut the cyclist off with a sudden right turn. This truck driver appears to have failed in his responsibility.

    It’s really unfortunate that the NYC Police have been doing their worst for traffic safety. The screw up enforcement by chasing the wrong problems, citing the wrong laws, and most often ignoring all incidents of driver on cyclist assault. Further, they not only fail to educate cyclists, motorists or pedestrians, but most often give them bad information and the wrong laws. The cops themselves don’t know traffic law at all, and that failure includes our Harvard educated Police Commissioner. (Full disclosure, I have a Harvard graduate degree too.)

    These deaths and injuries are crashes are not accidents, and crashes need to be investigated in a professional manner, before either party can be blamed or exonerated. It’s not just the NYC Police at fault here, but the DA’s office and the courts that have been failing in taking the death toll from traffic crashes seriously. The death rate from guns has dropped so low in NYC that the average person has a higher chance of dying by aggressive auto than being shot! It’s way past due for the NYPD, DA’s and Judges to put the same attention to traffic deaths as they do to shooting deaths – both are murder.

    • Working Class New Yorker

      Obviously a comment by another NEW New Yorker who is either unaffected or oblivious to the murder rate and gun offenses here in our city.

      Yes, maybe your precious, magical, white-washed (gentrified) neighborhood you NOW live in has decreased in violent crime this year, but the NYPD and the Bloomy administration sweep plenty of crimes in sections such as Brownsville, East New York, East Flatbush, Ocean Hill under the rug so as not to influence citywide statistics.

      And honestly, do you really believe that traffic deaths deserve the same attention as murder and other violent crimes in NYC? You and the rest of the other “brownstoners” need to climb down from your ivory towers.

      And, YES. Most cyclists are fcuking reckless in this town, especially since there has been an increase in bike lanes.

      • Chris

        Would you stop with this crap about “NEW New Yorkers?” I’ve lived here my whole life, and I agree with him. If your perfect New York involves police corruption, cyclists and pedestrians getting mowed down with no consequences, and drivers breaking the law en masse while city officials sit on their hands, then why don’t YOU move away?

        I’m working to improve my city. What are you doing other than sitting on the Internet all day making disparaging comments about hipsters and yuppies?

        • Working Class New Yorker

          Just because I detest yuppies and hipsters like fcuking cancer, does not mean in any way that I support a corrupt system or like to see people get hit by cars.

          The problem with this “improvement” of our city that you speak of is that it doesn’t involve New Yorkers at large, only a certain demographic. When these “improvements” are implemented, most people in this city are either not part of the plan or they simply cannot take advantage of them.

          And don’t be so presumptuous as what I do all day. Or maybe we do the same thing since you reply to all of my comments?

      • Brownstone6

        Just a few small comments about NEW New Yorkers: You ain’t talking to me.
        I was born in Brooklyn, grew up in the Projects, been riding a bike since the early 1950s, did a tour with the Army in Vietnam, commuted by bike for 40 years, own and drive a car here too, and the brownstone where I live now was still being Red Lined by the banks as a slum when I moved in.

        Cops certainly are covering up statistics to look good – but they hide or ignore traffic assaults just as much as robberies. The have a hard time covering up shootings and other obvious murders – dead bodies make good press, but the cops are really good at calling traffic deaths “accidents”, so those don’t appear in the stats at all.

        You ask, “And honestly, do you really believe that traffic deaths deserve the same attention as murder and other violent crimes in NYC?”

        Yes, you better bloody believe that I do! The same crazy people are killing with cars and with guns. A bullet is less than a 1/2 inch wide, that truck was 8 feet wide and 50 feet long. Damn site easier to kill someone with a car or truck than a gun.
        About 99 percent of drivers are pretty sane, but there is 1 percent ready to kill if anyone is in their way. These we need to follow up and get off the streets. It’s like arresting subway fare beaters – better than 10 percent of those fare beaters are wanted for serious crimes. If the cops would bother to follow up on reports of traffic assaults on cyclists and pedestrians, they would be finding a really large chunk of wanted criminals – these crazy drivers are not our solid citizens.

        Working, whether one is born in NYC or not, or lives in a brownstone, a project, or a slum, a person can know what safe and proper traffic operation is and what proper policing and civic legal action is, and demand it.

        Cars have been catered to – obsessively – since the end of WW-II.
        “When these “improvements” are implemented, most people in this city are either not part of the plan or they simply cannot take advantage of them.”
        Working, the majority of people in this city still don’t have or want cars and don’t drive – really! And those 60 years of “improvements” for cars were no advantage for most people – they have been a killer. The city is only shifting balance of the public streets back to people traveling under their own power – non-motorized transportation – along with cars and trucks.

        Finally, you write “Most cyclists are fcuking reckless in this town,” Well, cyclists are really good at sex – all that exercise and stuff, but, no, in general, they are not reckless in bed.

        Enjoy. ;-)

  • melanie

    It is hard to form an informed opinion as we are not informed, worse we are misinformed! I suspect some of you who side against the cyclist have read he went through a red light. How do we know this? Were there witnesses, if so, how come we do not know more? As the truck driver, even if he is not criminally responsible, how would you feel if you knew you had killed someone? Wouldn’t you want to see the family and say how sorry you were? How can someone lives with oneself knowing that he killed someone? I am following this case, and I too would like answers.

    • Brownstone6

      If the bike did go through a red light – then so did the truck!
      There is no way that the bike could have been in the intersection during the red light phase, riding to the right of the truck, unless the truck was making his right turn also during the red light phase.
      It’s one thing for the truck driver to go straight through the end of a yellow and into the red phase, but deliberately rushing a turn on red invites exactly the type of crash that killed this cyclist and killed the woman in the crosswalk off 5th Ave yesterday. Just an accident – I don’t think so.
      There is something not Kosher here – big time.

  • Surfin Bird

    You can’t criminally charge the truck driver as he did not know he hit anyone.

    • Eric

      Except it’s only the truck driver who claims he didn’t know. I accidentally ran over a chipmunk once, and I was damned aware that I hit something.

    • Ian Turner

      So, if you accidentally fire a handgun into a neighboring building, does that mean you can’t be held criminally responsible just because you can’t be sure whether or not you hit someone?

      • Working Class New Yorker

        If you have a handgun it’s automatically a crime. Driving is not.

        • Chris

          So what? If he discharges a gun, are the cops going to charge him with possession of a handgun or manslaughter?

  • mark

    We should not blame the cyclist only hat about the pedestrians who walk behind the car when you are backing up?

  • Daniel

    were you a witness of the accident? do you even know this biker and his biking habits? do you even know what happened that night? how can you say that this biker had it coming?!
    you’re not aware of ANYTHING!
    you’re just some ignorant, irresponsible coward, ranting randomly and anonymously through the internet.
    shame on you.

  • grow a spine, and a brain

    Wow, that’s pretty mean. Do you have the guts to tell that to his parents? I’m guessing you don’t

    Do you even know what the traffic laws are?

    • Sally

      “I drive in Williamsburg daily and the bikers are more aggressive and are worse drivers then those in cars. Sorry, but this biker dude had it coming… They do not obey laws take up the entire road when they have a lane… Not feeling bad for this boy and his idiotic bike driving hipster friends.”

      I absolutely agree. These bikers are a hazard. Wish these hipsters would go back to the small backward towns they came from.

      • Chris

        Why don’t you tell that to this kid’s parents’ faces? Oh, wait, Sally, you wouldn’t, because you’re a hateful, spiteful, miserable person hiding behind an anonymous Internet username.

      • Working Class New Yorker


  • Jason

    Wow. Someone was killed while riding his bicycle, and there are people pointing the blame at him. How unfortunate that someone has died unnecessarily. I’m sure that’s what you meant to say. Right?

    • no blame here

      it was a accident things happen noone to blame here

      • no accident

        Really? And how is that you know this?

  • Big Nards

    I guess the cyclists thought the flatbed driver was going to stop.

  • R. Limbaugh

    What the mom wants is NOT unreasonable. She has the right to know exactly what the ploice know about her son’s death. C’mon, this is a grieving mother, help her get some answers!

  • Gonzo

    Bicyclist are just as bad at driving as much as the vehicle drivers themselves. They believe they own the road its a me against the world mentality. Bicyclist must obey all vehicle traffic laws just like all vehicles do. If there was a crackdown on reckless bike riding then bicyclist would be up in arms protesting their persecution.

    • Chris

      “Bicyclist must obey all vehicle traffic laws just like all vehicles do.”

      Actually, vehicles don’t. That’s why things like this happen. A pedestrian was killed on the UES on Tuesday when she had the right-of-way in a crosswalk… and the driver STILL wasn’t charged.

      And there was a cyclist crackdown by the NYPD earlier this year. But instead of going after the true dangers – commercial cyclists who ride on sidewalks and the wrong way down streets – they ticketed commuters who rolled through red lights at empty intersections and let the delivery riders go with a free pass.

      It’s a shame cannot trust the NYPD to enforce the law in a way to make our streets safe.

  • Working Class New Yorker

    Uh oh… the last thing you wanna do in NYC is harm a hipster or transplant. Bloomy is gonna have his hands full with this one.

    Bike lanes, for the most part, should be eliminated anyway. Not only are they dangerous for the cyclists, they are extremely dangerous for pedestrians… most cyclists NEVER obey laws.

    Plus, more bike lanes = more yuppies and hipsters = more organic bullsiht = higher rent.

    • Chris

      Actually, studies have shown that bike lanes decrease traffic injuries significantly among ALL users – drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.

      As for your other claim, I’m sure the poor and immigrant populations – who actually use bikes in far greater numbers than however “yuppies and hipsters” is defined – would gladly show you otherwise.

      Sorry, try again. Or at least get the facts straight before you go spouting off on the Internet.

      • Working Class New Yorker

        Typical. Referring to studies rather than experience. That’s what’s wrong with this city.

        So, you say I don’t know the facts. But you say that “poor and immigrant populations” utilize the bike lanes more? Is that a fact? Oh, it must be another another one of those studies you’re talking about.

        Get the fcuk out of our city.

        • Chris

          Sorry, but studies and statistics mean a lot more than your selective observation of what you see. They’re facts. Sorry they don’t align with your warped perspective and your disparaging stereotypes. Deal with it.

  • Wil BK

    I agree with val. I live and drive in williamburg. I’m not saying all drivers are excellent drivers but the cyclists should be more aware especially at night. Sometimes the bicyclists are in your blind side and at the last minute try to pass you while you’re trying to make a turn. They don’t always follow the road rules and then have the nerve to curse at you and want to start throwing punches. They seem to forget that they have to share the road with everyone. And as for the bike lanes. If they used them more often, maybe driving and riding would be less hectic everywhere.

  • AndreasNYC

    Outrageous! ~50% of pedestrian & bike fatalities involve autos aggressively going around corners (you know it) or speeding. Less than 10 tickets for ~300 killings last year!
    NYPD – Prosecute dangerous drivers.

  • Tappan ZZ Top

    Just between you and me, I know Williamsburg is a very young and hip place, but anybody who wants to ride a bicycle in Brooklyn has to be a little bit crazy. The pedestrian/vehicle/bicycle is oversaturated to the max, an accident like this is bound to happen frequently.

  • val

    I hate to say this, but these cyclists are so difficult to see sometimes! Some ride at night or even at dusk with no lights and in dark clothes. Some dash in between cars. These bike lanes are a joke. I feel terrible for the fact that this man was killed but if an accident happens, the driver is not always the one at fault.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Giving Tuesday
Charles Osgood Event

Listen Live