NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A 52-year-old man was struck and killed while riding his bicycle Sunday in Brooklyn, becoming the 19th cyclist to be killed in the city this year.
It’s all because one of the cars involved in the crash ran a red light.
Shocking video shows a gray car traveling south on Coney Island Avenue run a red light and T-bone a blue SUV heading east on Avenue L around 12:30 p.m. in Midwood. The SUV spins out of control and slams into Jose Alzorriz, who had just pulled up to the intersection.
“He didn’t stand a chance, it was so fast,” witness Simon Gifter told CBS2.
Witnesses said Alzorriz was pinned underneath the SUV.
“There were a lot of Good Samaritans pulling the car off. They were trying to move it a little bit so they could get that cyclist out from underneath,” said Gifter.
Johnathan Kahen rushed from a nearby bakery, called an ambulance and joined several others attempting to move the SUV.
“All of the sudden I heard something so I turn around and I see, like, kind of an accident,” said Kahen. “I saw feet or a foot between the blue car and the wall of the building over there … You want to go save the guy. You see somebody… you know there’s something wrong. There’s somebody stuck somewhere. So you don’t think, you just want to go outside and try to help the person.”
The 39-year-old driver of the SUV and a 52-year-old pedestrian were also hurt.
“I couldn’t believe it. It was just terrible,” another witness said. “I thought everybody got killed.”
Alzorriz suffered severe head trauma and couldn’t be saved. His Park Slope neighbors were stunned to hear the avid cyclist was killed doing what he loved.
“I’ve heard a lot about the different cycling accidents this year. I’m a bike rider and I’m almost never riding on the streets here in New York. It’s just not worth the risk,” said his friend, Alex Kaplan. “So it’s shocking to hear that. It’s hard to process.”
Those who knew Alzorriz say he was the one always reminding them to wear a bike helmet, stay in the bike lane and follow the rules of the road.
“He’s had several friends that have suffered injuries from biking, so he really knew how, like, important it was to be safe and that’s why it’s so tragic,” Amanda Hanna-McLeer, a friend of Alzorriz’s, said. “People that are pro-car are kind of like, ‘oh, these bikers, they’re reckless.’ No, he was not doing anything like that.”
Friends described Alzorriz as a staunch advocate for safe bike riding. His girlfriend’s daughter says he scolded them when he learned they didn’t own helmets.
“He bought us helmets right away and said, ‘You’re biking in the city. That’s atrocious. You need to protect yourself,'” Hanna-McLeer told CBSN New York’s Valerie Castro.
“This is crazy. This is, what, the 19th cyclist to die for absolutely no reason? How many people got to die until the city goes after speeders?” Gifter said.
The 18-year-old driver of the car was released from police custody overnight. Investigators say charges are in the works as they finalize their case against him.
“He was not intoxicated. He didn’t have a suspended license, so we have the video evidence of him going through the light. We’re ready to charge him, but we have to work with the DA’s office,” NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan said. “There’s a few more steps they want us to take.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke about the incident Monday on NY1.
“Of course there should be numerous charges right now,” he said. “If you kill someone through your negligence, maybe that’s not murder one, I’m not a lawyer, but I’d say it should be a serious, serious charge with many years in prison because it’s negligence. It’s not that something unavoidable happened and the driver was put in a horrible situation.”
“It was a young kid, and I don’t know what he was doing, but he was speeding. There’s no reason you should be speeding on Coney Island Avenue like that,” Hanna-McLeer said.
She says the generous man who took care of his friends and neighbors was outraged at the lack of protection for cyclists in the city.
“We love this city, and it doesn’t care about its citizens. If you’re prioritizing cars over cyclists, you don’t care about people,” Hanna-McLeer said.
There have now been 19 cyclists deaths in New York City so far this year, compared to 10 in 2018:
- Jan. 1 – Hugo Alexander Sinto Garcia, 26, was killed on Third Avenue near East 28th Street in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
- Jan. 4 – Hector Ayala, 41, was killed on Linden Boulevard near Crescent Street in East New York, Brooklyn.
- Jan. 26 – Susan Moses, 63, was killed at Kings Highway and Van Sicklen Street in Gravesend, Brooklyn.
- Feb. 4 – Joseph Chiam, 72, was killed by a tractor-trailer truck at 8th Avenue and 45th Street in Midtown, Manhattan. The driver took off.
- Feb. 28 – Aurilla Lawrence, 25, was killed at Broadway and Rodney Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
- March 14 – Robert Spencer, 53, was killed at Borden Avenue and Second Street in Long Island City, Queens.
- April 17 – Pedro Tepozteco, 26, was killed on 47th Street near 17th Avenue in Borough Park, Brooklyn.
- April 27 – Victor Ang, 74, was killed on 11th Avenue near West 30th Street in Chelsea, Manhattan.
- May 11 – Kenichi Nakagawa, 22, was killed at Dean Street and Brooklyn Avenue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
- May 12 – Robert Sommer, 29, was killed by a car on Avenue U between Burnett and East 33rd streets in Marine Park, Brooklyn.
- May 15 – Yisroel Schwartz, 16, was killed at 17th Avenue and 53rd Street in Borough Park, Brooklyn.
- June 9 – Mohammed Abdullah, 29, was killed by a car at Avenue D and 105th Street in Canarsie, Brooklyn. The driver was charged with driving while intoxicated with her 4-year-old daughter in the backseat.
- June 24 – Robyn Hightman, 20, was killed by a tractor-trailer truck at West 23rd Street and Sixth Avenue. The driver was cited for equipment violations.
- June 27 – Ernest Askew, 57, was killed by a car at Chester Street and Sutter Avenue in Brownsville, Brooklyn.
- July 1 – Devra Freelander, 28, was killed by a cement truck at Boerum Street and Bushwick Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
- July 23 – Alex Cordero, 17, was killed by tow truck at Castleton Avenue and Clove Road in the West Brighton section of Staten Island.
- July 23 – A 58-year-old man was killed by a box truck at McGuiness Boulevard and Norman Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
- July 29 – A 30-year-old woman was killed by a tractor-trailer at 35th Street and Third Avenue in Greenwood Heights, Brooklyn.
Heartbreaking news from Brooklyn today. A cyclist was killed and a pedestrian injured.
Our streets are in crisis. This is our 19th cyclist death this year. We need to make them safer immediately. https://t.co/qbz7wYHo2r
— NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson (@NYCSpeakerCoJo) August 11, 2019
“Coney Island Avenue is a hostile environment, especially for those not in a vehicle. Designed to move cars as quickly as possible, this street is incompatible with Vision Zero. That’s why we’re calling on the City Council — including Council Member Mathieu Eugene, in whose district this tragic crash occurred — to unite behind Speaker Corey Johnson’s Streets Master Plan bill, which would accelerate the schedule of redesigning deadly corridors like Coney Island Avenue,” Transportation Alternatives said in a statement. “All City Council members, but particularly those in Brooklyn given the devastating concentration of deadly crashes in the borough, should unite and push for passage as soon as possible.”