Jean Chambers, the 61-year-old woman hit and killed by an SUV at 95th street and West End Avenue in July, was not on her cell phone when she was crossing the street, according to an article by Jill Abramson in the West Side Spirit this month (the article is about the lack of criminal charges in many cases where pedestrians are killed by vehicles).
An anonymous source had told the Daily News that Chambers was using her phone as she crossed West End Avenue and was hit and killed by an SUV driver who was turning North onto West End from 95th. But cell phone records indicated that wasn’t the case, according to the article. Abramson wrote that some victims’ families think police are too quick to blame the pedestrian even when they’re not at fault.
Chambers was walking with the light, and the SUV took a very sharp turn and slammed into her shortly after she stepped off the curb. The video of the incident is brutal, and leaves little doubt that the driver was crossing over the southbound lanes to get to the northbound ones, instead of turning in the middle of the intersection as he should have. Nonetheless, the driver wasn’t charged in the incident.
Let us also say this: it doesn’t really matter if she was on her cell phone. Yes, we hate the fact that people are on their phones all the time and seem oblivious to the actions around them. And it’s always important to be aware of your surroundings when crossing the street. But it has nothing to do with who had the right of way in this case. (If speaking on a cell phone while walking with the right of way justifies getting hit by a car, then there’s little hope for blind people trying to cross the street.)
In related news: Koffi Komlani, the cab driver who hit and killed Cooper Stock in January blamed bad weather for the crash; he pleaded not guilty to two traffic tickets.