UPDATE: Man struck dead while walking his dog in Bay Ridge

BAY RIDGE — A man walking his dog in Bay Ridge was struck and killed by a car that witnesses and local officials said was speeding.

According to authorities, on Thursday, March 5, at around 7:05 p.m., Frank Decolvenaere was  crossing from east to west in a marked crosswalk at Fourth Avenue and 101st Street against the pedestrian signal.

The NYPD Highway District’s Collision Investigation Squad stated that the driver, operating a 2011 Mercedes-Benz 350 sedan, was driving southbound in the right lane of Fourth Avenue approaching 101st Street when his car struck Decolvenaere and knocked him to the roadway. Decolvenaere was pronounced dead on the scene.

The driver remained on the scene and the investigation remains ongoing.

A valet from an area restaurant witnessed the accident.

“There’s a car driving down,” said Steven Paul. “I heard a boom. I went to go see what happened. There was a person laying lifeless there, so then I saw an ambulance down the block, helping someone else out. I said, you need to come here. Someone just got hit by a car. The driver was a young kid. I feel bad for him. He stayed on scene and tried to help. The pedestrian was struck at the crosswalk and flew onto the sidewalk. I feel awful for the pedestrian. Rest in peace.”

Another witness, Tony Spinelli, told this paper, “One of the guys we have working for us here witnessed the whole accident. Guy apparently was hit by a speeding car, threw him across the street. It’s been an ongoing problem here for over 20 years.

“There have been so many pedestrian fatalities at Fifth Avenue, Fourth Avenue, Third Avenue,” Spinelli went on, “and it’s definitely something they should get control over more instead of worrying about putting speed cameras and ticketing everyone. The speed cameras aren’t stopping them.” 

Spinelli said that young drivers speeding has been a chronic problem in the area.

“You have the young kids driving around a sports car, hitting people,”he added. “They got the suped-up exhausts. They don’t know how to handle it. There’s no need to drive like that. Obey the street laws. You want to show off your car? Take It to the show. Don’t take it to Fourth Avenue and kill somebody.”

According to Spinelli, the victim was a local resident.

“We’ve seen him a hundred times walking his dog,” he said. ‘He lives around here. The dog ran when he got hit. A lot of people around here knew him. He was just walking his dog and crossing the street. He had the right of way.”

Local elected officials reacted with anger to the incident.

“Tonight was a horrible but avoidable tragedy,” noted Councilmember Justin Brannan, who called for enhanced enforcement of speeding by the NYPD, and for the city’s Department of Transportation to “Recognize our problem for what it is: an emergency.

“Tonight,” Brannan stressed, “lives were forever changed — most importantly for the family of the victim, but also for the driver and his family; for the eyewitnesses.

“For people who get behind the wheel of their automobile and think they are the only person on the planet who matters, there is unfortunately no known antidote,” he went on. “Common sense, courtesy and respect for human life are things that unfortunately cannot be legislated. Some drivers need to realize that there are actually things in life that are more important than getting from one red light to the next as quickly as humanly possible. Getting to that light is not worth a person’s life. We have a speeding and dangerous driving epidemic in this neighborhood, and today it took someone’s life. I am outraged and sickened.”

“As our city grapples with an increase in pedestrian fatalities over the last few months, it is imperative that drivers obey speed limits and slow down. It is a shame that this gentleman’s family will never get to see him again,” added Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus, who wrote on Facebook that she was “shocked and outraged” by the latest traffic fatality.

State Sen. Andrew Gounardes agreed.

I am deeply shaken by the death of a pedestrian who was walking his dog in a crosswalk on Fourth Ave and 101st St in Bay Ridge. He was killed by a speeding driver,” he said in a statement. “When are we going to WAKE UP, SLOW DOWN, and realize that we are literally killing each other to save a few minutes? Just last week I introduced new safe streets legislation to bring greater consequences for reckless drivers and change the culture of dangerous behavior behind the wheel. There’s so much we have to do — from street redesigns to passing new laws— and we have to act with urgency like lives depend on it.”

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