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Fresh Hell

NYPD Tow Truck Driver Fatally Strikes 7-Year-Old Boy in Fort Greene: ‘She Was on Her Phone’

"He’s just a little kid, with his whole life in front of him."

An NYPD officer removes the boy's scooter and backpack from the scene.

An NYPD officer removes a boy’s backpack and scooter from the scene of the crash in Fort Greene where he was killed (Liam Quigley / Hell Gate)

Around 7:45 a.m. on Thursday morning, a seven-year-old boy was crossing the street in Fort Greene with his mother, when an NYPD tow truck driver struck and killed him.

According to the police and eyewitnesses, the tow truck driver, with a car in tow, was heading west on Myrtle Avenue, made a right turn onto North Portland Avenue, and hit the boy as he and his mother were crossing Myrtle Avenue, in the crosswalk. The boy, who was pushing a small green scooter, was pronounced dead at the scene. An NYPD spokesperson said that the tow truck driver was a 54-year-old woman. 

Marlo Stevens, a 50-year-old construction worker wearing a hard hat, said she was walking down the street when she saw the crash.

"The lady was in the New York City tow truck. She was driving. She was on her phone. The light was green," Stevens told Hell Gate. "The little boy was on his scooter with his mother, and she had another baby with her. The [driver] was not paying attention. When she turned that corner, she hit that little boy, and the mother screamed out, 'You hit my son!' The little boy dropped down to the ground, brains out."

Stevens added that the tow truck driver kept driving, even after hitting the boy. 

"If it wasn’t for the housing workers and all the people outside stopping her from moving, she would have kept going," Stevens said. "She rolled over that boy. All of the tires." 

The NYPD tow truck on the street behind a roll of crime scene tape.
(Liam Quigley / Hell Gate)

This account contradicts what NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey told reporters during an unrelated press conference, roughly two hours after the crash. 

"The child went down, the tow truck driver stopped immediately," Maddrey said, adding that the investigation was still preliminary. 

"Our tow truck operators are civilian operators, civilian members of the service, so that's all gonna be part of the investigation—cameras, witness accounts, and inspecting of course, the inside of our tow vehicle," Maddrey said.

When Hell Gate arrived at the scene at 9:28 a.m. a crowd had gathered to mourn the boy and express their anger. "When you're not shooting us you're running us over!" one man shouted at the dozens of cops who were standing around. Mid-morning joggers spilled onto Myrtle Avenue from Fort Greene Park, slowing and running in place to take in the scene.

(Liam Quigley / Hell Gate)

"From what I’ve seen to my knowledge, she was on her phone or device. He’s just a little kid, with his whole life in front of him," said Saul Hernandez, 24.

Neighborhood resident Randy Turner, 39, said he understood the rage from those gathered at the scene.

"The community is trying to be alright with it. But it’s not alright. A lot of us haven’t processed our emotions properly yet," he said.

"We don’t need somebody from the mayor’s office here. We need the mayor himself here," Turner added. "What are you going to do for the community to reassure us this will never happen again? Don’t try to pattycake us about this. Give us some real solutions and some real resolve to this situation. Give us back our crossing guard. We haven’t had one here in five years," he said.

Eventually, former NYPD Chief and current Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Philip Banks arrived, and so did Crystal Hudson, the City Councilmember who represents the neighborhood, who was recently criticized by safe streets advocates for speaking at a meeting called "The Downside of Vision Zero." In a statement, Hudson blamed the NYPD's history of reckless driving for the crash, but didn't mention any of the street improvements that this particular intersection lacked—the absence of turn calming measures or clear sightlines. On one side of the intersection, a Maserati with Pennsylvania license plates was illegally parked right next to the crosswalk, surrounded by crime scene tape.

(Liam Quigley / Hell Gate)

Nearly four hours after the crash, numerous TV reporters had shown up—one apparently purchased exclusive footage of the incident from the deli across the street. An NYPD drone hovered in the air, and some people had lit candles on the sidewalk in memoriam. An NYPD officer removed the boy's scooter and bookbag from the street. The tow truck and the car it was towing—a white Honda—remained.

Records show that the Honda has racked up 11 tickets for speeding in school zones.

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