After watching Angela Hurtado die in the street when she was run over by an unlicensed driver, enough is enough for community activist Dmytro Fedkowskyj.
“She was a wife, a mother and a grandmother. And as a witness to this accident, it has changed my life forever,” Fedkowskyj said during a Tuesday rally at 69th Place and Grand Avenue in Maspeth, the very intersection where Hurtado, 68, died. “We can’t sit around and continue to wait for change. Change needs to happen now.”
The former Panel for Education Policy member said he was inside a gift shop located at the intersection when the incident occurred and was at the scene “30 seconds after she was hit.”
Hurtado, an Elmhurst resident, died at the scene and 28-year-old Abel Tinoco, of Richmond Hill, was charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle.
Hurtado is one of 17 New Yorkers who already have been killed on city roads in 2014, according to a press release from Transportation Alternatives.
Fedkowskyj said that, in addition to changing his life forever, her death inspired him to stand and fight for safer streets alongside members of the community.
“It has driven me to advocate with others for safer streets in our community,” he said.
Fedkowskyj — who is eying a run for state Assembly— believes that a sidewalk extension called a neckdown, which would narrow 69th Place, and additional signage would benefit the deadly intersection.
In addition to his family, Community Education Council District 24 member Bill Kregler and IS 73 PTA President Joanne Berger joined him at the rally.
Berger worries for the safety of the school’s students as well as her own children as they walk down Grand Avenue to school.
“We have almost 4,000 students walking to school and traveling down Grand Avenue every morning. Something needs to be done,” Berger said. “My children walk to and from school. I want to make sure my children are safe.”
Tuesday’s event comes two days after another traffic safety rally at the intersection of Myrtle, Wyckoff and Palmetto avenues in Ridgewood, attended by state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), as well as the families of loved ones killed on city streets during the past year.
A banner containing the names of every traffic accident victim was unveiled at the rally while officials called for stronger action to be taken against those who drive with suspended or revoked licenses.
Assemblywoman Marge Markey (D-Maspeth) and Gianaris held a press conference of their own on Sunday at the site of Hurtado’s death as well.
Markey announced that she and Gianaris had introduced bills to make operating a vehicle with a suspended or revoked driver’s license a Class E felony in the case of an accident causing serious injury or death.
Fedkowskyj supports such legislation, but believes the quest to make streets safer shouldn’t end there.
“Those issues are after someone has already been injured,” he said. “We need to take action now to prevent the injury.”