Long Island City community members are calling for a traffic study, more enforcement and sidewalk barriers following the death of a Woodside high school student.
Tenzin Drudak, 16, was waiting to cross the street to Applied Communications High School on Thomson Avenue in LIC when a van jumped the curb and struck him and four LaGuardia Community College students. The other victims survived.
The uninsured driver was reaching for a milk carton, police said, when he accidentally jumped the curb between two sidewalk barriers. The crash marked the only traffic fatality at 30th Street and Thomson Avenue during the last decade, Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Gastel said.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said at a press conference last Thursday that he wants the DOT actively studying Thomson Avenue from Queens Boulevard to the bridge within the week.
“We will be out rallying if they don’t,” he said. “We will shame them if we have to.”
The DOT is already working on improvments in conjunction with a $70 million construction project the college is doing, Gastel said.
“Safety enhancements that are under consideration include sidewalk extensions at this intersection, among other significant improvements,” Gastel said.
Students from LGCC had presented a 500-signature petition in July asking for longer walk signals and to end the blinking yellow turn signal that pits pedestrians against cars on the corner on Skillman and Thomson avenues.
The DOT responded in November, saying the signals were “operating properly as designed.”
“The lights favor trucks, not pedestrians,” Community Board 2 Chairman Joe Conley said at Thursday’s event. “It’s sad this boy had to give his life to call attention to this.”
Patricia Sharpe, dean of studies at Bard High School Early College on Thomson Ave., said students there were being provided with grief counselors, and asked, while visibly upset, why they still don’t have a crossing guard at the busy intersection.
A study of the lights, sidewalk barriers and enforcement were the main requests, but a pedestrian bridge was an item Van Bramer said his office would suggest to the DOT. He noted that a bridge would be a significant capital improvement.
Drudak loved fashion and basketball and aspired to be a rapper. The only child and Tibetan immigrant had a tattoo of his mother over his heart.
Many of his friends who, he met on park courts gathered last Thursday in front of a memorial where other friends had pinned notes and left flowers and candles.
“We are very sad,” his friend Tenzin Samphel said.