R.I.P. COOPER STOCK, ALEXANDER SHEAR; WHAT NOW?

The 9-year-old boy and 73-year-old man who died in separate crashes on Friday night within two blocks of each other were mourned over the past few days.

cooper stockCooper Stock, who was in the third-grade at the Calhoun School, was holding his father’s hand when a cab driver ran over him on 97th and West End Avenue. He was remembered as a funny, sweet boy with an outgoing personality. His obituary touched on his love of sports and music and his joyous effect on the people around him:

“On January 10, 2014 Cooper Dean Stock, beloved son of Dana Lerner and Dr. Richard Stock, was tragically killed in a vehicular accident near his home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He was just nine years old. Cooper was a spirited third grader who attended the Calhoun School. Cooper had a larger than life personality and will be massively missed by everyone who knew him. Cooper loved to play basketball and avidly followed the Knicks. Cooper was a statistic machine when it came to the Knicks. Everyone marveled at what he knew. He was also a fan of the New York Yankees and classic rock ‘n’ roll. Cooper was the life of the party even when there wasn’t a party. He was light, he was reflective, he was beauty in motion, he was charismatic, he has been described as an old soul and wise beyond his years.”

“Cooper will live in our hearts forever. We will never understand why we had to say goodbye so soon.”

Cab driver Koffi Komlani was ticketed for failing to yield. The Stock family made a particularly gracious statement about him: “We cannot even find in our hearts at this time to feel anger toward the cab driver, who we know must be suffering too,” the family wrote, according to the Daily News.

Komlani’s mother in law told the News: “He’s not driving. He’s not talking at all. He’s not eating. He’s really, really down,” she said. “It’s an accident. It’s not like he’s done it on purpose.”

Alexander Shear, the 73-year-old killed by a tour bus on 96th between Broadway and Amsterdam just 30 minutes before Stock was hit, was known for his collection of 20th-century antiques.

“Shear, whose widespread collection was highlighted in the New Yorker and People magazines, was the city’s go-to guy for artifacts from the last century,” the Daily News said.

The bus operator was not charged in the crash.

We have heard from several Upper West Siders about the need for better pedestrian safety, and the community board put together several recommendations in a report issued to the Department of Transportation in November. The DOT has instituted some traffic-calming measures, like changing the lanes on some avenues, but most recommendations have not been implemented.

Scott Stringer said in a statement: “The time for studying the 96th Street traffic corridor is over, and New York City needs to take action now that will prevent such fatalities in the future. I look forward to working with DOT to take all necessary steps to protect road users—-pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists alike–and to implement a Vision Zero agenda that makes every street in every borough as safe as it can be. Our City has already had 9 traffic-related deaths in 2014, and my heart goes out to the families of last night’s victims.

Helen Rosenthal also noted that “Both corners are difficult to navigate for pedestrians and drivers.” She said she’d consider ideas once the police have investigated: “Ongoing investigations by our local police will inform next steps and I look forward to immediately getting to work with Mayor de Blasio and fellow elected colleagues on any safety measures that can be taken.”

Mayor de Blasio has pledged to work on making streets safer, and said that he was particularly saddened by Cooper’s death.

But for all the supposed attention paid to pedestrian safety in the past few years under Mayor Bloomberg, the numbers have gotten worse. The Daily News reported that pedestrian fatalities have been rising in the past few years, to 173 in 2013 from 150 in 2012. There were already seven this year through Jan. 12. The Post reported that only one cab driver has been charged criminally in the past five years, despite at least 21 fatal crashes involving cabs. Data from the 24th precinct (where both crashes occurred) show that only one driver was cited for speeding in November, the most recent month for which data was available.

On Wednesday night, Upper West Siders are coming together at the corner of 97th and West End where Cooper was hit to hold a vigil and call for better safety measures. Details below:

Join community groups and concerned neighbors of the Upper West Side at a community vigil to honor Cooper Stock and Alexander Shear. 9-year-old Cooper, and 73 year-old Alexander, both members of the Upper West Side community, were struck and killed Friday while walking on our neighborhood streets.

When: Wednesday, January 15th, 6:30pm.
Where: South-West Corner of 97th and West End Avenue.

Please join concerned parents, faith leaders and residents of the Upper West Side as we remember Cooper and Alexander, stand in solidarity with their families, and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH to traffic violence in our community.

*The vigil will be “rain or shine”

Photo of Cooper Stock from Stock family.

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    1. Catherine Holmes says:

      Two tragedies that might have been avoided in one night. I have walked and crossed those intersections many times over the years and ALWAYS thought to myself “someone is going to get killed crossing here someday”. They are treacherous crossings because of the ramp onto the northbound West Side Highway, the Crosstown bus, and general north/south & east/west traffic. Years ago a neighbor was killed by a city bus while crossing 96/Columbus after visiting a sick friend. The solution can’t come quickly enough. It’s not about blame, it’s about fixing it. My sincere sympathy to both families and friends

    2. Peter Goldberg says:

      The intersection at 96th and Broadway has gotten worse since the DOT changed it a few years ago, allowing turns from Broadway onto 96th Street. The DOT will not admit things went from bad to worse since the change, and with the relocation of the subway entrance from the sides of Broadway to the middle, and add people texting while crossing the street, it is dangerous for both drivers and walkers.

    3. Amy Epstein says:

      I am deeply saddened by these tragic accidents.

      I had a near miss around noon today crossing W. 105th Street as a Mercedes SUV whipped around the corner to get to a parking space between Broadway and West End. I walked past the car and motioned to the driver to pull down her window. I said, “I had the right of way just now and you almost hit me.” She said, “I’m so sorry. I just wasn’t thinking” (and then she clasped her hands in a prayer gesture). I think we as pedestrians should be praying.

      Unless and until someone invents a radar device to attach to lights at city intersections, to automatically slow down vehicles (on turns especially) going beyond the legal limit, maybe better signage and lighting would help.

    4. PRL says:

      If the giant JHL nursing home is allowed to be built on West 97th Street, things are only going to get worse. All that new traffic generated (including ambulances, etc.) will drain almost directly into these same danger zones. For those of you not aware of this pending project, here’s a recent link from dnainfo.com: http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20131209/upper-west-side/controversial-uws-nursing-home-development-gets-25-million-grant

    5. Amy Epstein says:

      As a follow-up to my comment above,
      I Googled “legal speed limit on NYC streets” and found information about a report from 2010 to improve pedestrian safety:

      “The report – the Pedestrian Safety Study and Action Plan – recommends a series of actions to reduce crashes involving pedestrians, including legislation to authorize the use of speed cameras, pilot programs to reduce speed limits in residential neighborhoods to 20 mph and street designs to increase pedestrian safety.”

      How about actually implementing 20 mph speed limits in residential neighborhoods and then putting up signs to alert drivers to that reality!

    6. e says:

      They should consider doing what they did at 9th Avenue and 23rd Street, where all left turns onto 9th Avenue are now prohibited – the only viable solution after lights and signs and various other traffic changes didn’t work.

    7. Linda says:

      The driver hit the child three times! Initially, then ran over him with the front wheel and again with the back wheel. You bet he should not be driving. He belongs in prison.