BENSONHURST — This morning, local elected officials and advocates called for justice for the victim of a fatal hit-and-run that happened yesterday in Bensonhurst.
At the site of yesterday’s incident, at the corner of 86th Street and Bay Parkway, where a private sanitation truck run over 67-year-old Deborah Mutell just blocks away from her home, local politicians gathered with the community to address accountability for the reckless driver and urge the motorist to come forward.
Around 4.06 a.m. yesterday, the victim was crossing 86th Street mid-block, when a private sanitation truck struck her and drove on, splitting her body in half. The sanitation company has yet to be identified.
Councilmember Mark Treyger, representing District 47 which includes Bensonhurst and other parts of southern Brooklyn, called out the sanitation company to take accountability and urged to pull their business license.
“It has now been over 24 hours since the tragedy — I have not even seen a or heard a statement from this company, to take any accountability, it is outrageous,” Treyger said at the meeting. The Business Integrity Commission, that regulates the sanitation industry, has also not issued a statement.
He reminded the public that last year, at a nearby location, a 3-year-old was killed by a reckless driver as well. Mutell was the fourth pedestrian death in Brooklyn this year.
“I will not accept anyone blaming pedestrians for these tragedies, you’re talking a multi-ton vehicle up against a 3-yeard-old child and 67-year-old senior. Have you gone mad?” Treyger spoke passionately on the incident. “We have seen over 200 pedestrians and bicyclists killed in the last year, the numbers keep rising, this is a crisis. We need to step up enforcement, accountability, we need traffic calming measures.”
Treyger called out the Department of Transportation (DOT) not keeping up to speed with studies to add traffic calming measures to the area, “it shouldn’t take a year to figure out how to keep our people safe.”
Treyger was joined by Congressman Max Rose, representing New York’s 11th congressional district, which includes all of Staten Island and parts of southern Brooklyn.
“Today we mourn Deborah Mutell, our community mourns her, but we also say, that those responsible for the killing, this death, must be held accountable, this is a hit-and-run, let’s not forget that,” Rose said. “Somebody behind that wheel struck this woman and made the decision to keep on driving. Let’s not forgot about the people who this driver works for: did they or did they not put policies in such a place that put such undue stress on this driver? Squeezed the efficiency out of this driver, that he or she felt the pressure to keep on driving, felt the pressure of their job?”
Rose announced firmly that they will get to the bottom of this incident and hold people accountable and, “finally fix this system.”
State Senator Andrew Gounardes, who represents New York’s 22nd State Senate District, including Bensonhurst and other parts of southern and western Brooklyn, sent a representative to speak at the meeting on his behalf.
“It is a tragedy,” the representative said. “We need to hold reckless, dangerous drivers accountable … and pass the Hit-and-Run Prevention Act.”
The act would increase penalties for drivers leaving the scene of an incident. The incidents would be considered misdemeanors, and repeat violations would be a felony. Fines would range from $250 to $1000 in addition to any other penalties.
Treyger says these violations have been going on for years and calls for stepping up enforcement of traffic lights and speed limits, as well.
“We demand accountability and justice in the name of our families and our communities,” Treyger said.