Suspect in Fatal Gravesend Hit and Run Arrested, Pols Demand Safety Measures

A suspect has been arrested in a hit-and-run that left a 57-year-old woman dead in Gravesend.

According to authorities, 55-year-old Susan Liebowitz of Brighton Beach was charged with leaving the scene of an accident, failure to yield to a pedestrian and failure exercise due care in the death of 57-year-old Francine Labarbara.

On Tues., Dec. 11 at around 8 a.m., LaBarbara was struck by a vehicle allegedly driven by Liebowitz at West Second Street and Avenue Y.

According to the preliminary investigation, Liebowitz was allegedly driving the white Ford Econoline van that authorities say hit LaBarbara. The van, cops say, was travelling southbound on West Second Street when the driver attempted to make a left turn onto Avenue Y, striking LaBarbara, who was crossing Avenue Y. The van did not stop after the impact.

Police found LaBarbara lying on the roadway, unconscious and with trauma to her head and body. EMS rushed her to Coney Island Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

On Weds., Dec. 12, Borough President Eric Adams and Councilmember Mark Treyger were at the intersection to hold a press conference addressing the incident.

“Our community is grateful that the @NYPD has made a swift arrest in this case, but we have more work to do in combating #trafficviolence,” said Adams via Instagram. “I thank @MarkTreyger and representatives from @DianeJSavino’s office and @TransportationAlternatives in calling for street redesign at the intersection of Avenue Y and West 2nd Street, as well as demanding #speedcameras at every school.”

Treyger concurred.

“How many serious incidents resulting in catastrophic injury or death do we need to witness before measures are put in place to prevent tragedies like this from taking place?” Treyger asked, pointing out that the school zone speed camera program — had it been enacted — might have made a difference.

“Had the state Senate majority put politics aside and acted in the best interest of New Yorkers, we might have had a speed camera in place at or near this very intersection – just a couple of blocks from a UPK site – and this tragic death could possibly have been avoided,” Treyger contended. “I hope that the arrest made by the NYPD late last night is a step toward justice, but that is not enough.

“Many children, parents and families walk to and from the nearby UPK site or P.S. 216 on Avenue X.”, he added.

In addition, he said, “There are seniors who visit the Key Food and adjacent small businesses on Avenue Z or the commercial area on Avenue X to do their shopping and day-to-day transactions. There is also an entrance to the Belt Parkway at the end of West Second Street, and many cars are clearly racing through these streets to get there.”

To that end, besides speed cameras, Treyger said, “We are calling for a traffic light at this intersection, and we need speed bumps on West Second Street, between Avenues X and Y, as well as Avenues Y and Z,” as well as a traffic light at Avenue Z and West Street. “DOT must study every possible measure related to street and traffic pattern redesign to reduce speeds in this area,” Treyger concluded.

According to Treyger’s office, DOT is expediting the speed bump study.

According to Adams, LaBarbara was a single mother of twin teenage sons and marketing director of the Bagel Store in Williamsburg. She was returning home from the grocery store when she was struck. Some neighbors have called the intersection dangerous because of speeding drivers.

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