PHOTOGRAPHER KILLED IN HIT-AND-RUN ON AMSTERDAM AVENUE

A 44-year-old woman was hit by an SUV and killed on Amsterdam Avenue and 113th street Wednesday evening.

guler ugurThe woman, identified as Brooklyn resident Guler Ugur-Yaacobi, was crossing Amsterdam at 113th from the West to the East side of the block around 6:10 p.m. when the Northbound black SUV hit her, an NYPD detective told us. The SUV sped off before the police arrived and the driver has not been arrested.

The detective did not have all of the details of the incident, including whether she was crossing with the light. The woman was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Ugur-Yaacobi was a photographer with an office in Manhattan, according to the Karma Brooklyn website (she lived in Kensington). An article about her in the Jewish Standard tells a fascinating story: she was born in Turkey to Muslim parents, briefly lived with a Catholic foster family as she attempted to avoid an arranged marriage, and later in life converted to Judaism when she was preparing to marry a Jewish man. She took photographs of events and created art too. She said “Everything good in my life that has happened to me has been because of photography.”

Ugur particularly loves taking pictures of children. “It’s about winning the child’s heart,” she said, “and in the end I always do.”

She supports herself mostly with event photography — and she loves it — but she also works on purely noncommercial projects. “I do a lot with movement,” she said. “My last show was called ‘Emotion’ — it was about motion.”

She enjoys photographing women, so much of her noncommercial work focuses on them. She finds that “when I say that I’m a wedding photographer, that I do events, often people look down on me. It’s like they’re thinking ‘poor you.’ But I personally feel privileged. I feel like I can be a part of what’s going on. I get very emotional about it.”

One other sweet thing she said. Ugur-Yaacobi would photograph lots of Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, and would sometimes get emotional: “Every time I go to a bar mitzvah, I want to cry. I see people who have known each other from childhood. Even I see at least eight people I’ve photographed at every bar mitzvah now.”

That stretch of Amsterdam has been the scene of other crashes in the past year, and Councilman Mark Levine has called for changes to Amsterdam Avenue near Columbia.

Top photo via Google Plus.

NEWS | 50 comments | permalink
    1. Sam says:

      My thoughts go out to the family. Let’s hope that a traffic cam picked up the SUVs plate number.

    2. Ted says:

      I hope they catch the driver and put them away for a long long time in a deep dark hole.

      • Woody says:

        Without even knowing the details of the accident and whether or not the victim’s behavior contributed to her own death, why would you be so quick to want that person in a dark deep hole? That the driver fled is not reason enough to demand such venomous punishment. Yes, the driver should have remained at the scene but that wouldn’t have affected the outcome and would change nothing at this point.

        • Sam says:

          Are you serious Woody? There’s no excuse for that crime and civilization is better off without such people walking around passing their behavior to their offspring. Just despicable in every way. .

          • Woody says:

            You’re blending together the accident and the driver’s action after the accident – those are two distinct events. Would you be entitled to call for the same punishment if the driver remained at the scene and it were found that the victim’s actions contributed to her death?
            The bottom line is that you have no information about how this accident occurred yet you’ve already decided the punishment.

            • Sam says:

              Let me clarify. I cannot pass judgment on the the accident itself. It’s entirely possible that the pedestrian was at fault. I have said a number of times on the is website that pedestrians need to exercise extreme caution even with the light. Crossing while texting, crossing without looking, etc are ways to get yourself killed even if you have the right of way.

              What it not debatable is the fact that the driver hit another human being and knowingly drove away leaving a woman drying on the street. That is the behavior I am referring to and one that is completely unacceptable. That BS cannot be tolerated and even if the driver is found not guilty of the accident, he/she should be thrown in jail for the crime committed after the accident.

            • Tyson White says:

              So you assume it was an “accident” and that the driver did nothing wrong?

              First off, a driver feeling the scene is typically an unlicensed driver.

              Second, his actions after the “accident” should be a hint about how innocent this guy was. Mostly likely a speeder or a texter.

        • Tyson White says:

          You leave the scene and give the victim less of a chance of survival instead of stopping and calling for help immediately, and for that you should just be “remanded”.

          This sickens me, Woody. Yes, he should be put in a deep dark hole!

          • Woody says:

            “So you assume it was an “accident” and that the driver did nothing wrong?

            First off, a driver feeling the scene is typically an unlicensed driver.

            Second, his actions after the “accident” should be a hint about how innocent this guy was. Mostly likely a speeder or a texter.”

            I don’t have to assume it was an accident; that’s what you call events that are not intended. It was definitely an accident no matter whose fault it was. Right now, you don’t know the answer to that. When a pedestrian does something that causes a collision, it’s also called an accident.

            I don’t know where you get your statistics from, but I think you’re just making assumptions based on no hard evidence about fleeing drivers also being unlicensed drivers.

            Your other claim about the driver being a speeder or texter is another example of jumping to some conclusion without really knowing anything. Driver could have been drunk, temporarily incapacitated (ever sneeze while driving and not be able to see momentarily?), or in an argument without else in the vehicle who hit him causing him to lose control.

            Whoever who was able to identify the vehicle as being an SUV will also be able to provide info about who had the right-of-way. What about focusing on why the victim was crossing if the vehicle was moving and speeding?

            • Menachem Goldstein says:

              Hey genius, here’s a little clue: There are over 200,000 accidents reported in NYC each year. Only about 14,000 of them involve pedestrians.

              Do you really believe that pedestrians are the problem and drivers have it all under control? I’m afraid not. They crash into other cars, “accidentally” run up on sidewalks and crash into homes, crash into shops, crash into light poles, damaging public and private property. And oh, they crash into people too!

            • tyson white says:

              OMG, but you yourself blamed the pedestrian!
              Jesus! You’re really something, you know that?

    3. Miriam says:

      So horrific for this woman and her family.I live a few blocks away and have crossed this street often. It’s a very wide street and you have to be careful because cars tend to speed up Amsterdam. I hope they catch the driver and he/she is given more than a slap on the wrist.

      • Woody says:

        That Amsterdam Ave is a wide street and cars speed is only a reason to be careful if one is jaywalking. Cars aren’t moving when the traffic signal is RED for cars and pedestrians have the WALK signal.

        • Tyson White says:

          What if an elderly person or other person who doesn’t walk as fast as you didn’t make it across before the light changed? Should they die for not being “careful while jaywalking”?

          Do we have this same standard for drivers who frequently disobey the law by speeding and texting? If anyone should be more careful, it should be the one who has the ability to cause harm to the other (pedestrians don’t kill SUV drivers). And by being more careful I don’t mean just obeying the laws of not texting and not speeding, but I mean refraining from “legal texting”, such as dialing a phone number on a mounted device. It is dangerous albeit still legal!

          • Woody says:

            That’s why there are countdown timers on the Walk/Don’t Walk signals. There is always enough time allowed on these to allow for safe crossing. When there are 3 seconds on the flashing red signal, that is not the right time to start crossing. In fact, I noticed a sign near Lincoln Center recently that said pedestrians should not commence their crossing once the signals start flashing. I think the pedestrian no longer has the right-of-way during that time.

            • AJ says:

              So far woody, all your comments and assertions have been bogus and without merit. Driver fled the scene. The fact that that happened puts more blame on him. I do think people crossing while texting or reading their phones should be ticketed. But this does not seem to be the case as the driver probably wouldn’t have fled feeling they did no wrong.

    4. robert says:

      I agree the driver should be charged with leaving the scene of an accident. But channel 7 news this morning did a “stand up” at the location saying that she did not have then light, the car did and thus the right of way. That said, the driver should have stopped and stayed there until NYPD came. St. Luke’s ER is steps away as well as an FDNY engine companies house.

      • DMH says:

        I’m wondering how channel 7, or the police, could possibly have determined this. They have video of the crash? If so, I have zero doubt they can get the license plate of this hit-and-run killer. And what was the SUV driver’s speed, heading up Amsterdam Ave before the collision? This is an awful tragedy… far too many in 2014. NYPD is too quick to blame the victims – their job is to catch Guler Ugur’s killer, not to defend him for channel 7 news.

        • Tyson White says:

          The driver was most likely speeding. If he hadn’t, she would most likely have lived based on the studies that say you have an 80% chance of survival if you’re hit at 30 MPH, and only 10% chance if you’re hit at 40 MPH (or something like that).

          • Woody says:

            That’s a ridiculous assumption. What those percentages refer to is the probability of dying based on the extent of internal injuries one sustains during a collision. One can be hit at 10MPH and still die from cracking your skull if your head hits the pavement or another object.

            • Tyson White says:

              My assumption isn’t in a vacuum. It’s coupled with the fact that a majority of vehicles speed in that corridor. I was saying that it’s MORE LIKELY THAN NOT that the vehicle was exceeding the OLD (30 MPH) limit.

            • Tyson White says:

              https://www.westsiderag.com/2015/01/12/man-arrested-in-fatal-amsterdam-avenue-hit-and-run?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

              Turns out both my “assumptions” were correct: He was indeed speeding (as evident by video showing her body landed 80 feet from the point of impact, AND the driver’s statement he was passing a “slower vehicle”. And the fact he had a suspended license.

              As I said, I don’t make these assumptions in a vacuum. These death are very typical – speeding with a suspended license. The only way to prevent this is more traffic stops by police to ensure all drivers are licenced and obey ALL laws!

    5. Woody says:

      These types of accidents will continue to occur no matter what changes are made through the Vision Zero initiatives. NYC can continually alter speed limits, traffic patterns, turn lanes, etc. but they will always just be knee-jerk reactions to the major issue that has not been addressed: pedestrian behavior. Pedestrians cannot continue to walk/cross whenever and wherever they want. There needs to be enforcement against such type of behavior to raise awareness of the danger they create to themselves and others. If pedestrians continue to swarm streets with disorganized and unpredictable behavior, there will always be disastrous results.

      • WombatNYC says:

        Well Said Woody — It’s never just on the drivers

      • Tyson White says:

        Statistically, the majority of pedestrian deaths are due to drivers doing something wrong. The #1 cause of pedestrian deaths are drivers who run over pedestrians with the right of way when they were making a turn and should have yielded.

        Even if a pedestrian didn’t have the right of way, capital punishment isn’t appropriate for such a minor offense. Had the driver obeyed the speed limit, she probably would have lived.

        Vision Zero can and will change things as long as police are on board. With the measly number of tickets they give to speeders, texters, and drivers who fail to yield, new laws will have little effect.

        Pedestrians who died while jaywalking had the choice. But pedestrians who had the right of way, and pedestrians who were killed by curb jumping vehicles (happens way to often and is very under-reported) did not. Vision Zero should focus on eliminating the latter, and should not focus on preventing pedestrians from harming themselves. That’s why the jaywalking tickets are not helpful.

        • Woody says:

          I challenge your assertion that the majority of pedestrian deaths are due to drivers doing something wrong. What’s the source for this claim?

          You also said, “Had the driver obeyed the speed limit, she probably would have lived.”. What info do you have that the driver was speeding? Let me answer that: none. You’re creating your own narrative.

          Vehicles’ not yielding to pedestrians’ right-of-way crossing is a big danger but what about pedestrians who disobey crossing signals and impede traffic that has the right of way. If pedestrians can cross when they’re supposed to and also when they’re not supposed to, when do cars ever get to drive/turn properly.

          • Tyson White says:

            It’s been well-documented. I’m not here to educate you. Specifically when you come on this page to blame the victim while the body is still warm. Oh, and to defend the driver as presumably innocent.

            • Woody says:

              No, it’s not well-documented according to how you present statistical findings. If you come here thinking you can just toss out guesstimates, expect someone who actually does some research to challenge you. Whenever someone declines “to educate someone”, they’re usually outgunned and unable to produce supporting facts.

              I resent your comment about blaming the victim and defending the driver. Anyone else capable of critical unbiased thinking would see that all I’ve done is discuss what could have happened. You’re obviously not capable of anything but superficial logic and quick to make erroneous assumptions to fit a preconceived narrative.

            • UWS-er says:

              One thing I think we can all agree on: Everyone on here saying the drivers are always to blame OR pedestrians are always to blame are all imbeciles. Sometimes the pedestrians are to blame. Sometimes drivers are to blame. This is clear. This is obvious. In this case we don’t know what happened yet, so why rant and rave about who’s to blame? It’s incredibly bizarre to react to every accident with some rant about how pedestrians bring it on themselves OR some rant about how drivers always speed. Every accident is different. Show a tiny trace of humanity and mourn this woman’s death instead of promoting your own agendas.

    6. Tyson White says:

      Very sad 🙁

      I’d like to see the 26th precinct step up enforcement against speeding, texting, and failure to yield. The combined total of those 3 categories for November was only 214 tickets (an avg of 7 per day) http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/downloads/pdf/traffic_data/026sum.pdf

      The driver most likely fled the scene because s/he was unlicensed, which is another scourge. If you don’t make routine traffic stops, you won’t catch the unlicensed drivers. If they don’t have to fear being stopped for small infractions, how will they be discouraged from getting behind the wheel?

    7. Bonnie Rice says:

      Perhaps if the person stopped he could have aided in getting help? What kind of people do this? A very important spiritual leader in Balto, fled the scene of an accident, clearly her fault, and a wonderful man died.
      I think ALL drivers who leave the scene should be put in a permanent dark hole. People should have fear for leaving an accident. Just saying!

    8. Irene says:

      I’m continuously astonished how many commentators on these frequent fatal accidents blame the victim. Is it your way to psychologically protect yourself from a similar fate? It couldn’t happen to you because you would never be so careless as to — what? Jay walk? Really? Never?

      Cars are lethal to pedestrians and we live in a crowded city. Yes, we all need to be careful. But the onus is on the driver. And fleeing certainly raises a suspicion of DUI or other illegal driving. There is a reason the driver left the scene.

      • Woody says:

        I’m continuously astonished how many commentators on these frequent fatal accidents don’t even consider blaming the victim. But that fits the narrative about pedestrians feeling they can flout jaywalking laws which, if adhered to, would probably considerably reduce pedestrian/vehicular accidents. Continuously criticizing drivers enables them to justify their own dangerous behavior since it’s always another person’s fault when they can’t get to do whatever they want to do.

        • Zeus says:

          woody,
          Why not just stfu and move on?

          • Woody says:

            Well, it didn’t take long for someone to try to stifle someone from contributing to a discussion. By the way, that’s your only comment in this discussion and it’s pretty indicative of how easy it is to be a bully behind the computer. You’re probably a whiny little weasel in real life if you can’t handle an adult conversation.

          • AJ says:

            Seriously… Unless… Maybe he was the driver

      • Menachem Goldstein says:

        Well said, Irene!

    9. Pedestrian says:

      A human versus a black SUV, the victim didn’t have a chance! Black SUVs speed around corners, down streets and ignore yellow and red lights. While they are not involved in all fatal encounters, they do seem to ride as if they are “kings of the road” and above the law.

      The driver fled. That is enough to presume responsibility.

    10. russell says:

      Just from reading this brief bio, I mourn someone I had never met.

    11. Scott says:

      Just the other day while driving south on WEA I encountered a middle-aged woman who walked right out into the intersection — the middle lane — to hail a cab. I had to swerve around her on the right to avoid making her a hood ornament with a fractured skull.

      She did this at an intersection, while the light was green. The look of entitlement on her face was priceless.

      Pedestrians play with fire constantly in NYC. To pretend otherwise is daft.

      • webot says:

        “Cross at the Green, not in between”

        In the early 1970s , it was either PSA commercial or something they told us in the NYC public schools.

        Either way, I never forgot it.

      • UWS-er says:

        Absolutely. Pedestrians often pay no attention to what they’re doing. AND cars run red lights and speed all the time. Why pretend one side is always at fault?

    12. UWSider says:

      The name and photo looked familiar and I realized that I’d read a little essay she wrote for “Curly Girl: The Handbook (2002).” Several women with curly hair spoke about their decision to embrace their natural hair in a world in which straight hair is the norm. Believe it or not, this does take independence.

      She came across as quite spirited. She discussed having grown up in a “Turkish ghetto in Germany, one of eight children…”

      “My father used to taunt me, ‘If you didn’t have your [beautiful, curly] hair, you’d have to kill yourself, you’re ugly.’ His words hurt so much that one day when I was fourteen, I grabbed a pair of garden shears and chopped off all my hair, just to show him I didn’t give a damn about beauty.”

      She then discussed her life as an art student, and later, a newcomer to New York City.

      http://www.amazon.com/Curly-Girl-Handbook-Michele-Bender/dp/076115678X page 84

      In the book she is listed as Güler Uğur.

      How sad, and how odd that I remembered that page from several years ago. I guess she made an impression.

      • A friend says:

        Thank you for the kind words. A woman who was a friend
        Of my friend was killed and these men are having a penis contest. Disgraceful.

    13. Jane Samberg says:

      She was a beautiful person. In the short time I knew her she made me feel special. Guler was a gift and she was taken from us too soon.

    14. stuart says:

      And I thought that the new guidelines for this website would prevent the type of back and forth mean comments like I’ve seen on this story…

    15. Dolores Ozdemir says:

      Please contact at ozdemird@state.gov if you would like to join a memorial service for our sweet Guler–thanks, Dolores

    16. Dolores Ozdemir says:

      Please call and leave your email address se we can contact you when we have arranged a memorial service for our sweet Guler…212-415-4487. Thanks

    17. Kathy says:

      Our paths crossed for a brief few minutes on October 4, 2013 when this vibrant young woman saw my wife and myself outside the courthouse after just being married. She asked if she could take our picture and remarked that she loved the hot pink cumber-buns and bowties of our tuxedos. Sadly, she is no more. Left on the side of the road….