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.

NEWS | 8 comments | permalink
    1. 95 in the Shade says:

      Cell phone or no cell phone, she’d have needed an eye in the back of her head to avoid getting hit by this driver.

      • LTG says:

        Given that we don’t have that extra eye in the back of our heads, the next best thing to do is to turn your head so your eyes are facing any oncoming turning traffic so you can see you are not in danger of being run over.

    2. Karen says:

      Dad always used to say, “Remember, when you get behind the wheel, you’re driving a potential weapon. Always be very careful and keep your eyes open.” I also remember a page in the driver’s manual that read something like, “Where there’s a ball, there’s a child.” Meaning that if a ball suddenly rolled into the street in front of you, expect a kid to be running after it. Those points stuck in my head in the days when I was behind the wheel.

      It’s the driver’s responsibility to pay extra attention to what’s going on in front of them. Too bad they always seem to be in such a hurry to beat that light or get 5 feet further faster.

      • LTG says:

        And my Dad always said you may be right as a pedestrian that cars should yield to you, but you’d be dead right.

    3. Margaret says:

      Thank you again for covering this. After all this time, when you watch that video it’s still hard to believe there weren’t manslaughter charges. I wonder if New York State DMV took any administrative action against the driver’s license.

    4. Pedestrian says:

      Hey she was only a human and a woman at that. She must dosen’t count. Hit by an SUV or a cyclist, that just too bad. It’s always your fault.

      I don’t know about you but I am sick of cars and cyclists cutting corners and putting us all at risk and now the skateboarders and scooters. Wheels trump feet. It’s time to change that balance.

    5. Nj says:

      I am sick and tired of hearing how cars and bikes and fast moving objects are the only problem!! I agree that there is a balance to be had but NOONE talks about the pedestrian who stand in the street instead of on the sidewalk and what about the crazy people who jump in front of your car and yell at you while your trying to go through a green light let alone having to miss your green light because a crazy amount of people crossing the street when they have a red light and missing your Green light because there was so so many not following the rules of the road!! I drive and I walk and I see how crowded it is and how no one pays attention to the rules!

    6. LTG says:

      I’m so saddened that a pedestrian lost her life to a reckless driver. What I notice in the video is that she doesn’t look or looks only briefly at the oncoming turning cars before she crosses. One thing I always do when crossing any NYC street is to look at oncoming cars and see that they are stopping or stopped and then I cross or I let them go ahead of me if I they’re moving too fast to slow down. I’ve waved on plenty of taxis and cars who drive too close to me and refuse to pass in front of their car. I started doing this many years ago as a defensive walking mechanism and knock on wood I’m still here. I don’t trust my life to anyone on the streets of NYC. This is an increasingly crowded city with a history of government that doesn’t appear to know how to limit traffic. Please all be careful.