BATH BEACH – Just last month, three-year-old Emur Shavkator was riding his scooter, when a van struck and killed him at the dangerous intersection. Now, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has approved a traffic light to be installed in November.
On May 2, just before the beginning of Ramadan, Emur was crossing the street on his scooter. His mom was nearby. At that time, 61-year-old Johnny Gonzalez was driving a 2011 Chevy Skittles van, heading south on Bay 25th Street. He was making a right onto Benson Avenue when he struck Little Emur who was on his little scooter crossing Bay 25th Street. Emur was pinned under the van, taken to Coney Island Hospital, and was pronounced dead.
Gonzalez was arrested and charged with Failure to Yield to Pedestrian and Failure to Exercise Due Care. Penalties include a fine ($150 for failure to yield and up to $500 for failure to exercise due care) and up to 15 days in jail. Though there was already a stop sign on the intersection, Council Member Mark Treyger said drivers usually don’t pay any attention to it.
“Our streets need to be safe for pedestrians, cyclists, and little kids on scooters. We are still waiting for further details from the precinct, but we have known for years that drivers regularly disregard this stop sign,” he said at the time. He also said he’s been requesting traffic calming measures at the Bay 25th Street and Benson Avenue intersection since 2014, “including submitting multiple requests for traffic signals which were denied by the City’s Department of Transportation.”
At the vigil for Emur last month, Treyger expressed his anger. “I want to say that I find it preposterous that there are those who have said that somehow the child or his family was responsible. Let’s put things into context. A three-year-old with a scooter versus a driver with a multi-ton vehicle in an intersection that the City knew for years was highly dangerous and problematic.”
After the death of Little Emur, the DOT put up traffic calming measures and conducted a study at that location and approved a traffic light. The light will be installed by November 30th. According to Assemblyman William Colton, his office has been requesting a traffic light at that intersection since 2013. He said it’s about time they listened.
“What really bothers me here is that a three-year-old child had to pay with his life in order for the NYC Department of Transportation to take quick action and approve a traffic light at that intersection,” Colton said. “I am happy that a traffic light will be installed which will hopefully avoid any more innocent lives taken at that extremely dangerous intersection.”
State Senator Andrew Gounardes echoed Colton and said the City needs to be doing more.
“While this should have been done long before the tragic death of three-year-old Emur Shavkator, the traffic light is a step towards ensuring there is no more loss of life in that intersection,” Gounardes told Bklyner today. “Our City has an obligation to proactively promote traffic calming measures so no family has to cope with what Emur’s family is going through. Every parent, every child, every individual deserves to be safe in our streets.”
Treyger agrees with the sentiments and said traffic calming measures are needed all throughout Southern Brooklyn.
“The tragic death of three-year-old Emur Shavkator indicates the dire need for traffic calming measures in Southern Brooklyn and in our city. This traffic light is a step towards increasing awareness of pedestrians and cyclists at this intersection, but I’m calling for more traffic calming measures–daylighting and speed cameras– for this intersection and other problematic streets in my district,” he told Bklyner today.
“The Department of Transportation (DOT) needs to take a proactive and holistic, not reactive, approach to street design that protects and increases the safety of our motorists, cyclists and pedestrians,” Treyger continued. “We must not wait for another traffic fatality to plan for safer streets.”
Neighboring Council Member Justin Brannan said it’s important that the community’s voices were heard.
“This is a red light that the neighborhood has been requesting for years. It will now serve as a reminder that three-year-old Emur tragically and needlessly lost his life at this intersection,” Brannan told Bklyner today. “This is an example that proves that listening to the community is just as important as studies and data. My hope is that we will learn from this tragedy so it never happens again.”
Congressman Max Rose gave Bklyner a short but powerful statement following news of an approved traffic light.
“This was a foreseeable tragedy that could have been avoided if the community’s safety concerns were taken into account. Government cannot wait until a tragedy to get things done.”