Bike helmet could have saved Stuyvesant accident victim

When a car fatally struck Aileen Chen at the corner of 62ndStreet and 21st Avenue in Bensonhurst on June 4, the 16-year-oldStuyvesant High School student was riding her bike without ahelmet. The significance of this detail was not lost on her cousinNemo Gee Moon.

I believe if she had had on a helmet, it could have preventedthe serious impact of the incident, Moon said.

An avid cyclist who for years had doubted his need for a helmet,the day after the accident, Moon walked into a bike shop and boughtone.

According to NYPD Deputy Inspector James Rooney of the 62ndPrecinct, you can’t overstate the importance of wearing headgearwhen riding a bike in the city.

It’s a good safety practice for all people, not just kids butadults too, Rooney explained.

The deputy inspector called the Saturday accident a tragedy andsaid that community affairs officers were dispatched to Stuyvesantthis week to discuss bicycle safety. As for the 26-year-old womanwho was driving the car, Rooney says that although Highway Patrolis still looking into the incident, it is unlikely any charges willbe brought against her.

They are still investigating it, but it doesn’t appear therewas any criminality on the part of the driver, Rooney said.

According to a report released by the NYPD, Chen went throughthe intersection, when she was struck at 6:06 p.m. Published newsreports have claimed she ran a red light.

Although the NYPD has not published how fast it is estimated thedriver was going, New York City streets have a speed limit of 30miles per hour. A pedestrian hit by a car going 40 mph is 3.5 timesmore likely to be killed than one driving the enforced speed,according to the New York City Department of Transportation.

According to Moon, Chen’s family is considering filing a lawsuitin order to challenge whether the driver was going the legal speedlimit.

If the driver was going at the speed of the neighborhood, howdid she pass away? Moon asked.

But Rooney, who spoke to several of the officers who arrived atthe scene, says it did not look like speed was a factor.

Heather Asaro, whose family has owned a grocery store a blockfrom the site of the accident for 70 years, says that drivers inthe area tend to have respect for traffic laws.

I go down this block every day and I rarely see anyonespeeding, Asaro said.

But Moon is unconvinced. The 29-year-old was at Lutheran MedicalCenter on Saturday night when doctors told Chen’s parents thattheir daughter was dead. He described the outbursts of emotion whenthe news was delivered.

It was just sickening and unbelievable, Moon recalled. Iwouldn’t want anyone to go through what I went through. It’s justthe worst thing ever.

Now, several days after the incident he has had time to reflecton the sweet, quiet cousin whose life ended suddenly. He’s evenfound time to try out his new helmet.

I went out for my first ride on Monday, Moon said. I feltdifferent on the road-more careful, definitely more careful.

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