Borough Park — Ten-year-old Enzo Farachio was killed on Tuesday while waiting for a bus in Midwood. Two days later, street safety advocates have planned a march in his memory — and in demand of change.
Transportation Alternatives, a nonprofit transit advocacy group, will host “Brooklyn Weeps: A March for Safer Streets” on Thursday evening, starting at the corner of Ocean Avenue and Avenue L, where Farachio was struck and killed on his way home from school.
Cops say the driver of a Lexus SUV was traveling northbound on Ocean Avenue when the driver veered right and mounted the sidewalk at Avenue L, hitting the boy and bringing down nearby scaffolding. Authorities also say the driver may have suffered a medical episode behind the wheel.
Regardless, Thomas DeVito, directory of advocacy at TransAlt, said Farachio was “where he was supposed to be” — a phrase reiterated throughout the march’s online invitation.
“There’s a tendency to blame the victim, and we’ve seen — especially in the last couple of weeks — people who may be struggling for a greater sense of control or understanding of how these things happen, they blame the people who are victims,” DeVito told the Brooklyn Eagle. “But the fact of the matter is that reckless drivers really negate the safety that’s supposed to come out of following the rules. You can do everything right and still have your life, or the life of a loved one, snuffed out in the blink of an eye.”
Farachio, DeVito said, did everything right — as did the two cyclists who were killed this year not far from Farachio’s bus stop.
On Aug. 12, 52-year-old Jose Alzorriz was waiting to cross the intersection at Coney Island Avenue and Avenue L when an 18-year-old driving a Dodge sedan in the opposite direction ran through the red light. The Dodge smashed into a Honda traveling east on Avenue L, causing the Honda to collide with the bicyclist, as well as a pedestrian.
The cyclist was killed, the pedestrian suffered injuries to his leg and the Honda driver suffered “trauma to the body,” according to police, who have since served the driver, Mirza Baig, with a 17-count indictment.
On May 15, 16-year-old Yisroel Schwartz was killed in Borough Park when he swerved into traffic to avoid getting hit by an opening car door.
Alzorriz was the 20th cyclist killed this year (and a 21st was killed on Labor Day) in New York City. In 2018, 10 cyclists died citywide.
Even before Alzorriz’s death, the spike in cyclist deaths prompted Mayor Bill de Blasio to announce his Green Wave plan as part of Vision Zero, which would speed up the construction of protected bike lanes throughout the city by 10 miles of lanes each year.
“It’s been well reported just how much in the wrong direction street safety has gone in the last year, but I think there needs to be more emphasis on how Brooklyn has bore the brunt of these trend-lines,” said DeVito, who has already called on members of the City Council to unite behind Speaker Corey Johnson’s Streets Master Plan bill, which would accelerate the schedule of redesigning deadly corridors like Coney Island Avenue.
“We’ve crunched the numbers, and there has been a 72 percent increase in [traffic-related] fatalities over last year in Brooklyn, compared to a 20 percent increase in other boroughs,” DeVito said. “And we know this. We see this. We’ve been going to a lot of vigils and there have been plenty of calls to action — many of them here in Brooklyn — but we need to see more action coming from the city.”
The group will gather at 6:30 p.m. at Ocean Avenue and Avenue L. From there, marchers will make their way to Coney Island Avenue and Avenue L, and end at 17th Avenue and 53rd Street, where Schwartz was struck.
“That’s the thrust of it,” DeVito said of the march. “Brooklyn is really suffering, and we need the city to rise to this moment and stop the carnage.”
Additional reporting by Noah Goldberg and Jaime DeJesus.