Long Island City: Community leaders called on the public this morning to help track down the driver who struck a 64-year-old pedestrian on Northern Boulevard and then fled the scene last Friday night.
Kumar Ragunath was killed crossing Northern Boulevard near 40th Road at around 10:25pm March 7 on his way to his job at the Holiday Inn. The suspect is believed to have been driving a dark Chevy Blazer.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, State Sen. Michael Gianaris and transportation advocates gathered near where Ragunath was killed and called for the perpetrator to give himself (or herself) up. They also urged the city and state to install more speed and red light cameras.
“We are here as a community to say never again,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said. “Every single time there is a serious injury and fatality to a pedestrian or cyclists we are going to speak out.”
Van Bramer urged anyone with information on the hit and run to come forward.
“Kumar was a grandfather, a father, and he left a family broken,” said Juan Martinez, a legislative director for Transportation Alternatives, who said that far too many pedestrians are dying on New York streets.
Van Bramer said that Northern Blvd is one of the deadliest streets in Queens, citing the death of Noshat Nahian who was struck and killed at a Northern Blvd intersection in Woodside on his way to school in December. Last month, he added, a seven-year-old girl had her skull fractured as she was hit waiting for a bus at 48th Street and Northern Blvd with her mother.
Van Bramer called—yet again—for Northern Boulevard to be selected as one of the 50 dangerous streets to be evaluated under New York City’s Vision Zero program.
Vision Zero aims to bring traffic fatalities down to zero by redesigning hazardous streets and introducing measures such as slow zones.
“Northern Blvd screams for inclusion into Vision Zero. It must be included in the first 50 selections,” Van Bramer said.
Van Bramer called out for more speed cameras in New York, since there are only 20 at present.
The number of speed cameras in New York City is determined by the state legislature, something Van Bramer would like changed.
“We need the authority to have many more speed cameras,” Van Bramer said.
The state has provided Nassau and Suffolk counties with 120 speed cameras.
Gianaris, who also said there is a need for more speed cameras, said 120 cameras on Long Island was the equivalent of 400 cameras across the city. He said that New York deserves more.
Gianaris continued to advocate for stronger punishments for reckless drivers, especially those who drive without or on a suspended license.
“We need to change the laws,” State Sen. Mike Gianaris said.