85-Year-Old Woman Struck by Jeep and Killed Crossing West End Avenue

Police officials at the scene. Photo by Joy Bergmann.

By Joy Bergmann

At 7:15 a.m. Thursday, an 85-year-old female pedestrian was struck by a Jeep at the intersection of West End Avenue and 70th Street, according to Capt. Timothy Malin from the NYPD’s 20th Precinct. The woman, later identified as Olimpia Davidovici, died at the hospital.

Initial witness reports – confirmed by video evidence – show that the woman was walking east in the crosswalk, but was crossing against the light, Malin said. The Jeep was traveling northbound on West End Avenue, officers on the scene said.

The scene from above. Photo by an anonymous tipster.

The driver remained on the scene and is cooperating with police. Investigators are looking into whether the driver was speeding at the time of the crash.

Passersby gasped when they heard the news.

The area around 71st and 70th is always precarious, one local woman said, “Cars coming down 71st turning south onto West End, they gun it to beat the light. And all the trucks that work around here. They don’t live around here and they’re in a hurry to get to work.”

A man who lives in nearby Lincoln Towers noted that the crosswalks had been widened recently, but that driver vigilance is not satisfactory, “Especially the people making left turns.”

A jeep — presumably the one involved in the crash — at the scene. Photo by Joy Bergmann.

This post has been updated with the name and age of the deceased, which was not initially available.

NEWS | 43 comments | permalink
    1. Jay says:

      All these unattributed quotes are really off-topic. The pedestrian crossed against the light. The driver was not at fault in this situation.

      • Eagle Eye says:

        Jay,If driver was speeding and/or reckless would you still claim driver was not at fault? Speed limit is 25 so hard to see how an alert driver does not see a pedestrian if they are paying attention. I think you are too quick to blame the victim.

        • Jay says:

          Eagle Eye,

          If the driver was speeding (which isn’t indicated) then that’s a factor to the tragedy. But, the over-riding factor was that she was crossing the street when she didn’t have the right of way.

          • Margaret says:

            So I don’t know anything about why the octogenarian woman wasn’t on the sidewalk already, but the driver always has an obligation to exercise due care. Say the object in his way was a car instead of an elderly person on foot. Even if the driver had right of way, you can’t legally just plow into a stopped car in front of you if the collision can be avoided.

            (I don’t know if this collision could’ve been avoided, but the driver has to exercise due care).

          • John says:

            Yeah, Jay, but she was 85. Let’s see how well you do when you’re 85.

            • dannyboy says:

              She probably started crossing with the light and ran out of time.
              And got run over.

          • Jason Sharke says:

            How do you know she didn’t start crossing with the light but it changed halfway through? In those circumstances, drivers absolutely have a legal and moral obligation to slow down and wait for people to cross.

            • Jay says:

              No one knows anything about the situation other than a person died and they were hit while they were crossing against the light, unfortunately. We don’t know if she was a slow walker or didn’t see the walk sign or what. All the know is that she was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

            • Cato says:

              “… drivers absolutely have a legal and moral obligation to slow down and wait…”

              I like that. The only problems are (a) The “legal” obligation is abstract at best; since police do not police driver conduct on the roads, the obligation is not a real one; and (b) This is the Upper West Side. There are no “morals” anymore — just “me first! me first!”, and everybody in “my” way be damned.

              So “slow down and wait”? The prevailing attitude is “oh, yeah? Make me!”

              It’s each pedestrian for him- or herself out there.

      • PedestrianJustice says:

        Those quotes very well summarize my feelings as a pedestrian in this area. Just this morning, a UPS truck ran a fully red (not just turning) light rignt in front of my face at WEA and 73rd.

        Everybody could use a more careful approach to how we conduct ourselves on these shared streets. Peds, don’t jaywalk or look at your phone. Drivers, slow the f down.

    2. Wendy says:

      Some of us Senior citizens have a rough time to walk at all. In a certain slum, which certain folk were put into….almost 8 times I’ve almost been run over WHILST : I walked in the legal crossway/walk. Some folk saw an incident, & , verified my narrow escape. English language only, for our driver’s license , please. Happy perambulating.

    3. bz says:

      This is so sad.
      And it also angers me. While it’s still unknown what happened in this deadly accident..what is known is how dangerous this particular stretch of WEA is.
      I have repeatedly called the DOT and the 20th pct. about the dangerous road conditions. And at this hour of the morning WEA south of 72nd street is like a freeway. It ‘s a FIVE lane road as parking isn’t allowed on WEA on the west side of the street btw 71 and 70 during rush hour. And in the evening rush, parking isn’t allowed on the East Side of the street. It becomes a free for all as cars scoot around each other and blow lights right where this woman was killed.
      Sadly have been told WEA in this area needs to be more accommodating to cars, not pedestrians. so traffic flows better. For the same reason parking isn’t allowed on w 71st btw Amst and WEA during rush hour. CB7 insisted on this parking change so traffic isn’t impeded.
      There have been numerous accidents in this are and DOT told me that it is not a priority. It ‘s simply not dangerous enough to warrant a change.

    4. dannyboy says:

      West End Avenue has become Death Valley. Helen , I’m talking to you!

    5. Izzy says:

      If the video evidence confirms that the woman was crossing against the light, why bother including commentary like “…one local woman said, “Cars coming down 71st turning south onto West End, they gun it to beat the light. And all the trucks that work around here. They don’t live around here and they’re in a hurry to get to work.”?

      I hate to be callous, but if you cross against the light, you risk you getting hit. End of story.

      • dannyboy says:

        “I hate to be callous, but if you cross against the light, you risk you getting hit. End of story.”

        Izzy, that is being callous. Try to understand how people feel after a person has died.

      • Brandom says:

        There is a good chance she started crossing when she got the walk signal so but didn’t get across in time so was crossing against the light. It’s a wide road and there is no median to wait in if you won’t make it across. Most 85 year olds aren’t speedy

    6. Elaine Toth says:

      When will city officials like you C’ Nadler who lives very close to this accident scene do something about this intersection.get off your butt and do something!

      • m.pipik says:

        C’ Nadler has no jurisdiction over any NYC or NYS agency. He has no jurisdiction over any government agency.

        Suggest you brush up on how governments in the US run.

    7. Joe says:

      I almost got hit last October at WEA & 71st Street. An Uber driver speeding down 71st Street made a left turn at WEA when I was crossing WEA west to east, was in the crosswalk AND had the light in my favor. He slammed on his brakes and missed me by inches. Passerby’s couldn’t believe it. I believe he was looking down at his phone and not watching the road. I lucky! The Mayor’s “vision zero”? Not enforced! Cars definitely speed on WEA and 71st Street. And there’s a school on West 71st Street between Amsterdam & WEA; someone’s going to get hurt!

    8. Tom says:

      May she Rest In Peace.

      But, older folks on the UWS need to stop jaywalking!!

      We all see it. Think they can beat that car on Broadway. Or risking the red light on 72nd to get to the store 10 seconds faster. Viewed countless near misses over the years. Yeah, drivers can be bad, but no reason to push your luck by crossing against the light. (No one here is getting any faster either))

    9. 9d8b7988045e4953a882 says:

      This tragedy makes me angry. Sometimes the traffic signals are too short to allow senior citizens to finish crossing the street, and that intersection is particularly aggressive. Many speeding motorists honking their horns and racing to beat the light to turn left onto 72nd and get onto the highway–without regard for the residents of this neighborhood. It is well past time that the city instituted traffic-calming measures along West End Avenue.

      • Lin says:

        Absolutely. The lights change too quickly at the crosswalk by the bus stop going north on WEA/69. When I start crossing I barely make it to the other side of the street before the light changes and I walk at a reasonable pace. This should be a relatively easy problem to fix. I do not know if this fix would have helped this poor lady but it sure would help pedestrians in the longrun.

    10. Harold says:

      Poor woman. RIP

      That intersection has been a very dangerous one since I’ve lived in that neighborhood.
      Been there since 1980 and seen many accidents, car vs car and car vs person.
      The fact that she crossed against the light did not help her much, but the speed limit is 25 mph, with 90% of the cars driving much faster than that speed limit.

    11. JP says:

      As a driver in Manhattan, you have to be hypervigilant. I scan every direction of every intersection I drive through because at any one of them a completely foolhardy pedestrian could dart out against the light–and usually do. I do the same thing as a pedestrian because speeding cars rush to make lights. I never cross until I see cars at a complete halt. But few people arenfully present in the moment all the time. It’s practice that could save a life.

      • Jason Sharke says:

        As a pedestrian, I do the same when crossing the road based on the fact that the majority of drivers in this city speed and have no qualms whatsoever about blowing red lights.

    12. Jean says:

      West End seems notorious for such things.
      So sad for the woman. At least the driver stopped.

      • dannyboy says:

        “West End seems notorious for such things.”

        Jean, West End has been poorly designed recently and such things are the result.

        It’s not due to notoriety.

    13. Trevor W. Frith says:

      We must all care about these types of crashes but we must also ask, would the Google car have stopped in time? What if there was a way this driver could have started the braking ¾ of a second sooner and stopped 30 – 40 feet shorter, perhaps in an even shorter distance than the Google car. There is. Sad that those in charge of driver legislation and training refuse to teach student drivers the safer (But girly!) left foot braking method and ban driving instructors from teaching the very complicated and difficult to mentally maintain especially for older drivers (over 40!), inefficient (poor stopping distance) and dangerous (right foot pedal errors) right foot braking method on automatic transmission cars. See DOT HS 811 597, 812 058and 812 431(spaces required). NHTSA insists on calling it “pedal misapplication” and always blames the driver rather than their beloved right foot braking method. Score to date 150,000 dead, millions injured, and billions in costs. The price men both in and out of government are apparently willing to pay to maintain their systemic belief in the “Killer” right foot braking method on automatic cars even though they have zero scientific justification. As one transportation “expert” said “That’s the way it’s always been taught”! This is not about who has the safer braking method but rather why they refuse to scientifically compare the two methods! Was it driver error or the way we taught them to brake?

    14. Christine Schwegel says:

      I am just amazed – disappointed, really – that people can think that a driver is faultless for hitting a pedestrian, even if that pedestrian is crossing against the light! Pedestrians should ALWAYS get the right of way! Yes, even in NYC! That should be foremost in every driver’s mind. That said, this is indeed a tragedy for all involved, including the driver.

      • Cato says:

        “Pedestrians should ALWAYS get the right of way!”

        The problem with this, particularly on the new Upper ME!-ME!-ME! Side, is that if it were true, you might as well stop wasting tax money on electricity to power traffic lights.

        Pedestrians should stop at red lights, just as drivers have to. I’m not justifying the driver’s running over this lady — there is no justification for that — but you can’t go all the way in the opposite direction to say that pedestrians can always ignore traffic signals. Then why have traffic signals?

    15. Roger Wolfe says:

      Does it take a number of deaths for the the Police to enforce speed limit laws? Drivers run red lights at 69th Street and at 67th Street due to a lack of cross street traffic. Is there anything that DOT can do to protect our population of elderly citizens as well as toddlers?
      Drivers are required to yield to pedestrians!
      Bikers also run red lights and do not adhere to traffic laws.

    16. SD says:

      That’s exactly true: West End Avenue has become a death valley!!!! You described it perfectly. I witnessed unreported dangerous accidents on West End and 70th Street too and I sent complaints and comments to the DOT and Linda Rosenthal’s office. I pointed out the dangers in this intersection and suggested installing a pedestrian island in the middle of 70th Street and West End similar to the one installed on West End and 66th Street which has increased pedestrian safety in that intersection. The wide markings put on 70th and West End aren’t very effective. When I cross that intersection I scan all sides for cars and bicycles to make sure they’re not coming at me or near me when the light is in my favor and it’s OK to cross. On top of looking all around me I also raise my arm gesturing for any cars and bicycles to stop and show them that I’m crossing. It’s really stressful and disgraceful to have to take all these precautions in order to be safe when crossing. There are traffic rules and regulations for cars and bicycles which need to be observed. Cars and bicycles need to stop when the lights are green for pedestrians to cross whether they’re in a hurry or not! Cars and bicycles coming from Freedom Place on 70th Street should not be allowed to turn right on West End going south when the green light is on for pedestrians to cross. The light should become red to stop cars and bicycles from making a right on West End going south when pedestrians have a green light cross on West End in that intersection.

      • MJ says:

        Agreed. I have also complained to the DOT and Linda Rosenthal. There are so many children in the area. Speeding cars racing to get to the highway at 79th too! There was a recent vehicular tragedy in Park Slope that killed 2 young children. Prior to this, complaints there went unanswered too. What do we do to make the city people pay attention??

      • Woody says:

        Will pedestrians ever stop crossing when their crossing signal starts flashing red so that cars and bicycles can make a turn? I think we know that the answer to that is never. Pedestrians feel entitled to cross whenever and wherever they wish with no regard to vehicles.

    17. Linda says:

      As an elderly person who is still able to walk a block or so out of my way to avoid an intersection like the one at 70th+WEA, I know that measure of self-protection can be too hard for others. I do wonder if Ms. Davidovici might have been caught by the red light in the middle of crossing. HOWEVER, IF THE DRIVER HAD BEEN GOING AT A REASONABLE SPEED AND PAYING ATTENTION, I have no doubt this accident could have been avoided!

    18. Elly Shodell says:

      Terrible intersection. I know 2 people who were hit by bikes there. Scary crossing even with the

    19. Jason Sharke says:

      In my experience Jeep drivers are almost always reckless a-holes who speed.

      • Harold says:

        No taxi in NYC is a Jeep.
        They are the ones breaking the speed limit
        at any moment of the day & night.
        Jeep drivers, by and large are the same as other drivers of other makes.
        Seems you have a problem with Jeeps.
        Is it that you view them as a macho machine?

    20. Muriel says:

      I am horrified by this tradgedy. Something must be done about this dangerous intersection! My daughter lives on that corner.