Another horrific hit and run took place on the morning of February 5, 2013 at the intersection of Ninth Avenue and W. 41st Street. Ms. Shu Ying Liu (69) died after being hit by one of the many large trucks making the (west) right turn from Ninth Avenue onto W. 41st Street.
Amel Zunic, an employee of Clinton Housing Developemnt Corproation (CHDC), ran after the truck and told the driver he had hit a pedestrian. The driver (shown here on the right), Jack Montelbano, 47, of Bayonne, NJ, just drove away. The police found him and charged him with vehicular manslaughter. Prosecutor Patricia Collins claimed Montelbano was involved in a fatal car crash at that same spot several years ago, although the suspect has no criminal record in New York.
Ms. Liu was once the managing editor of a large magazine in China. She was an optimist, cheerful, with an outgoing personality. She was doing research in healthy food and was coaching her two sons on how to live a healthy life. She loved to dance with her husband. She was also a client of Housing Conservancy Coordinators (HCC).
This tragedy was avoidable. Ms. Liu would be alive today, if the Department of Transportation had acted on the 2008 CB4 resolution that asked for “emergency interim measures” at this intersection: “On the west side, install a turn arrow red signal to give the pedestrians a dedicated phase to cross safely.”
This issue is not new – there have been 46 injuries and 2 fatalities in recent years at this corner. The time has come to tackle this issue with urgency. As part of the Hell’s Kitchen traffic study, there were discussions in 2011 about barring the right turn at non-peak hours. We had also requested a split phase since there is already a dedicated turn lane. This fatality is a stark reminder that after 5 years, the study still needs to be completed and permanent solutions implemented.
CHEKPEDS has asked our elected officials to intervene directly and have this intersection fixed immediately. The Community Board sent a resolution asking for a meeting to review proposed solutions.
The status quo is simply not acceptable. We cannot continue to lose our neighbors! People are being killed and maimed as they cross the street with the walk signal.