Video Shows Car Blowing Through Red Light Before Hitting Pedestrians; Driver Arrested


Photo by T.

A surveillance video obtained by the Daily News shows a 2011 Acura running a red light at 98th Street and West End Avenue on Friday before slamming into two pedestrians. The video, which shows the moment before impact, also shows the traffic light turning red in the upper left corner.

“The unidentified victims are a doorman in his fifties who works nearby and a 65-year-old woman. They didn’t appear to be together,” sources told the Daily News.

The pedestrians were thrown into the air. Witnesses told the Daily News they ended up about 25 feet from the crash. The driver stayed at the scene. “I don’t think she realizes the severity of the injuries. But when it sank in, she grabbed her chest and got on her knees and obviously was really, really upset,” a witness said.

On Saturday morning, NYPD officials told WSR that Jessenia Fajardo, 38, of Walden, New York, had been arrested and charged with two counts of failure to yield to pedestrians, operating a vehicle without insurance, disobeying a traffic device and failure to exercise due care. Fajardo was driving a 2011 Acura RDX crossover SUV.

The male victim – actually aged 64 – suffered “life-threatening” head trauma and is now in serious condition, NYPD officials said, indicating a more dire prognosis than was related on Friday. The female victim suffered trauma to her entire body and is currently in critical condition.


The aftermath of the crash. Photo by Anya.

NEWS | 54 comments | permalink
    1. Nora says:

      Absolutely awful. My heart goes out to these victims. Being a pedestrian and obeying traffic and crosswalk signals is no guarantee that some driver will follow the same rules. Hope the driver is held accountable.

    2. Jon says:

      Horrifying. I feel horrible for the injured and I hope Ms. Fajardo is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. In my opinion drivers like her should absolutely lose their privilege to drive in this state. We are fortunate that the video evidence so clearly shows her disregard for human life. Too often we give irresponsible drivers the benefit of the doubt.

    3. Tag says:

      The man that was critically injured was our doorman, Alfred. A very kind and gentle soul who is a loving grandfather. He was very cautious and in fact, just the other day he scolded one of my neighbors for crossing that intersection against the light.

      Our neighborhood has been negatively impacted by the West End avenue redesign. There is much more traffic, horn honking and aggressive driving and the lights are poorly sequenced. We need WEA reverted back, We need our neighborhood back.

      • LivesOnUWS says:

        Sure. Invite MORE cars (bad drivers) to drive through our neighborhood. It has been proven that if you expand roadways it invites MORE cars to use that option BUT the traffic problems stay the same. This was simply a reckless driver. Fewer cars are the solution.

        97th and 98th Street have become highway on/off-ramps to/fro the West Side Highway. These are small streets never meant for this type of traffic. Let us start there and look at the traffic light timing.

        • Paul says:

          Exactly. I live on West End and the revision into one lane, each direction means traffic moves more smoothly. No traffic revamp will affect scofflaws.

        • Tag says:

          They’re an on and off ramp to the highway because they closed the 95th street on ramp!!!!

          There is NO holistic approach to traffic on the UWS. DOT and CB7 are blind to the reactionary steps they take and the domino effect their actions have. They only care about whatever Transportation Alternatives tells them to care about.

      • Bruce Roth says:

        Congratulations on posting the dumbest comment here today.

        1. The driver blew through a red light.

        2. The driver was uninsured. Who will pay this doorman’s medical bills?

        3. Crashes have gone DOWN since the city redesigned WEA, so no! We don’t want the old street back. Look at the data http://crashmapper.org.

        Unfortunately no design can make up for NYPD not ticketing drivers who speed up on yellow and don’t insure their vehicles.

        • Julia says:

          If a member of the building services union, he has insurance…

        • Tag says:

          Crashes haven’t gone down. The stats being used to defend this redesign have been rigged from the start and use a statistically insignificant sample.

          The redesign including the sequencing of lights has not made traffic move more smoothly. It is jammed with constant horn honking, increased emissions from vehicles that are not moving, blocked intersections and aggressive driving.

          This driver undoubtedly got by the traffic block on 96th and finally had the greens and expected to be able to drive more than 2 blocks before red. This is a common behavior when drivers have been stuck in traffic and it is the redesign causing this traffic.

          West End above 96th street was a quiet street and it is now a traffic nightmare due to the redesign, the changes at 96th and Broadway and the closing of the 95th street on ramp. All of these changes were done piecemeal with NO planning or study on how they would impact the area.

          • Jay says:

            Rigging stats? How exactly does that happen with car accidents?

            Insurance companies are not going to pay out without a police report in an injury accident.

            • Tag says:

              It’s very simple. That numbers of accidents are so small that a small change in the number up or down can mean a huge swing in the percentage and therefore can easily be manipulated. They also don’t break down the stats in a meaningful way in terms of the type or severity of the accident.

      • Ryan says:

        No, we need better drivers.

    4. dan says:

      From the NYDaily News photo the plate seems to be “jer1919”. Per the kind folk at Twitter’s “@howsmydrivingny”, that car owner has nearly $3,000 in tickets and could/should have been towed/booted a long time ago. If only these issues _along with uninsured_ , were taken seriously… #NY_JER1919 has been queried 5 times.

      Total parking and camera violation tickets: 29

      18 | No Parking – Street Cleaning
      3 | Failure To Display Meter Receipt
      2 | Fire Hydrant
      1 | No Standing – Bus Stop
      1 | Blocking Crosswalk
      1 | Failure To Stop At Red Light

      • robert says:

        Can you get me the website they got this info from?
        I looked it up on the NYC “data site” myself. It is not always accurate, for example your plates are misread by a handwriting error on the ticket or off a grainy vid still

      • Mark P says:

        I’ve created an NYC Open Data asset that can be used to look up the count of violations by type and associated financials for any license plate. No names are attached, it is all public data, which I have re-ported into a summary view using the city’s public tools. It is here: https://data.cityofnewyork.us/d/peij-3neu

        If you type in the plate that appears to be pictured in the Daily News photo, the results look like those reported by @dan in the comment above, in terms of number of violations, dollar amounts, and types. There is one red light violation from January of this year; the individual violation details can be viewed if you scroll down.

    5. Isabella says:

      Our neighborhood is deeply saddened by this event.
      How to process the violent assault on our neighbors, the destruction of property and the brazen flout of important traffic regulations?
      💔

    6. UWSHebrew says:

      Cops should check to see if she was texting the moment of impact. I see people on their phones texting or reading while driving constantly. This could have been any of us who got hit, I am so upset about the poor people who are injured.

      • UWS_lifer says:

        For what it’s worth, this was exactly what I was thinking.

        If this wasn’t an intoxicated driver, which it likely wasn’t in the middle of the day, it was a seriously distracted driver. How do you run a red light in the middle of Manhattan and plow into people in the crosswalk?

    7. Scott says:

      Let me guess, the city’s response to this will be an expensive ‘calming’ study and the elimination of 40 more parking spaces.

    8. Penny says:

      This is absolutely terrible–and should have been avoidable. The traffic patterns on West End are a disaster–which isn’t helping situations like these. There are so many confusing directionals. I’m starting to wonder if they should just make Riverside and West End each one way.

    9. Paul says:

      Our criminal laws are hopelessly tied to notions of intent and capacity, which stem from common law traditions of finding excuses when the perpetrator was the son of some lord or knight.
      We need laws punishing failure to exercise the duty of care that comes with a license to operate a potentially lethal weapon.

      • Julia says:

        What!?! Read your criminal law.

        • Paul says:

          When a driver kills someone in a crosswalk by turning into him or her it’s a small fine, because they both had the light and it’s merely a failure to yield.

          To prosecute for negligent homicide you usually have to prove multiple violations by the driver. “Merely” speeding or “just” running a light isn’t enough.

          I know because I’ve put such a prosecution together.

          Have you?

          We need a law putting people in jail for failure to exercise due care while driving.

    10. Ed says:

      Two thing about this article: (1) the hyperbolic use of the term “blowing” in the headline implies that the driver was aggressively speeding through the red light. We don’t know this – the reported condition of the driver (by the Daily News) when she exited her car indicates that she might have been distracted. This is NOT meant to excuse her driving – merely to point out the possible exaggeration. (2) According to this article, the video shows the light turning red “the moment before impact” – does that not imply that the two struck pedestrians began crossing the street before they had the walk signal (or their light had turned green, if there was no walk signal)? It’s a common and dangerous practice (which I indulge in as a pedestrian) to begin crossing when the light is turning red for traffic, assuming that an approaching car will stop. I always wait to make sure the car is in fact stopping, although technically I am beginning toy cross before a walk signal. Facts are important.

      • Ed says:

        To clarify: I am not trying to shift responsibility aware from the driver. It’s also possible that the description: “The video, which shows the moment before impact, also shows the traffic light turning red in the upper left corner” is wrong – that in fact the light had already turned red when the driver passed it, and the pedestrians already had the walk signal. Clarity is very important.

      • Jon says:

        Ed, maybe you should just watch the video. The light turned red about 6 seconds before impact, and the victims started crossing about 3 seconds after the light turned red (probably because they had the walk signal). They did nothing wrong and the driver is completely at fault. The NYPD came to the same conclusion.

        • Mark P says:

          Ed raises valid concerns generally – I find there is a lot of inflammatory, subjective language in the media these days, likely because it helps to generate clicks, and I wish there weren’t. That said, the video does very much show the light was solidly red before the two pedestrians started crossing…and intentional or not, the vehicle does appear to go through the light at speed, so “blow” seems not unreasonable here.

      • Bruce Roth says:

        It’s customary for drivers in NYC to accelerate over the speed limit when they see a yellow light. You’ll start noticing if just look!

        • Craig says:

          This is true. When I needed a few driving lessons as prep for my road test a few years ago (I’m from the UK) my instructor encouraged me to speed through yellow. This is tangential, but I was astonished how easy the road test in NYC is. There are people driving out there who really shouldn’t be.

      • Bruce Roth says:

        You know what’s very odd? You think it’s a terrible thing that pedestrians cross when it’s red for the cars, but have nothing to say about drivers who blow through yellows (or what they thought was still yellow)

        • A witness says:

          Ed, if you were on scene as I was, and saw the injuries as I did – you’d be a little less caring about the language the press is using.

          I saw a driver who was careless. A driver who critically injured 2 people. She blew through that light. She didn’t have insurance. Her driving record shows countless examples of irresponsible behavior. She shouldn’t have been on the road, period.

    11. UWS Resident says:

      I hope Jessenia Fajardo is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and punished accordingly.

      Total disregard for pedestrian safety and human life. She should be banned from ever driving again.

    12. Priscilla says:

      Glad to hear charges have been brought. Seems more often than not drivers face minimal fines for failure to yield after they hit pedestrians.

      Last week I was almost struck by an SUV running a red during the day, southbound on Riverside Drive.

      So much for Vision Zero.

      • B.B. says:

        Much depends upon situation at time of accident.

        If no other violations, offenses or crimes occurred at time of accident, then yes, usually driver receives what some consider “light” treatment.

        That is if a driver has the light, is driving at or below speed, and otherwise is obeying all known traffic laws but somehow someone is struck, then no, nothing much can or likely will happen to driver criminally.

        Pedestrians generally have the right of way, but there are limits. Jaywalking, crossing against the light, running out into middle of traffic and so forth does not mean if struck a driver is automatically in the wrong.

        Long as driver remains and scene of accident, and again otherwise was obeying all known laws/rules, then usually nothing will happen.

        Many drivers get themselves into trouble even if they otherwise would have been in the clear by leaving scene of accident. That is against the law and thus puts a completely different complexion on things.

    13. dangerousBikes says:

      Isn’t someone going to blame those Tour De France bikers.

      • Minx says:

        How is this a helpful or even slightly funny comment? Two people have been injured, one very seriously.

    14. Scott says:

      When uninsured drivers do this sort of thing the police should seize their vehicles just like they do with drunk drivers. Then give the cars or monetary proceeds to the victims.

      • Dan says:

        If you want the cops to actually seize the cars in cases like this, then have them treat the vehicles the same way they (sit down for this one…) the same way that they handle “civil forfeiture” grabups.
        Those funds are (are you sitting yet?) transferred to the PBA and placed in their pension supplemental funds. Yes. Really.
        https://gothamist.com/2014/01/14/nypd_civil_forfeiture.php

        • Scott says:

          I’m decidedly not a fan of police seizing property for their own uses. Pennsylvania may be the worst state in that regard.

          But seizing property to compensate victims, yes.

    15. Sergia Po. says:

      The one victim is my uncle ..my family started this gofundme so we can support the medical costs. My uncle is in a very serious condition but we are all praying for him .. if you can help him or even share , here is the gofundme : https://www.gofundme.com/f/Support-for-alfred-pocari?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet

    16. Ed says:

      It would have been better if the article stated that the light had been red for two or three seconds before they began crossing the street. That’s all. I still don’t like “blowing” because it implies an aggressive rather than a passive action. We don;t know what the driver was doing. It’s like the description of someone on the tracks with “a speeding train barrelling into the station.” Needless exaggeration being used to create a sensational affect.

      • Christine says:

        “Needless exaggeration to create a sensational effect.” ??? Are you kidding? The “sensational effect” is two people gravely injured when their bodies flew 25 feet through the air as a result of being hit by this asshole who blew through the light. End of story. New story — we are pulling for Alfred, our doorman, and the other victim to survive.

      • Bruce Roth says:

        Ed, a man lies in the hospital with severe trauma and we don’t know if he’ll make it, and the one who needs your sympathy now is the driver who didn’t bother to insure their car before blowing through a red light?

        I think you should read this article written by a law professor which gives good perspective:
        https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/07/car-crashes-arent-always-unavoidable/592447/

    17. Sherela says:

      I’ve been saying for years that people treat red lights as just a suggestion to stop. Stand at any corner and watch how many cars fail to stop at red lights. Maybe more red light cameras would help. I am praying for the two victims. This could have been any one of us.

    18. Nario says:

      All manhattan streets should be one way, and pedestrian crossing allowed only on the safe side.

      • Bruce Roth says:

        Pedestrian should not be made to walk an extra distance to cross. Where do you get such ideas?

    19. Wendy says:

      So sad to hear this. A friend of mine was hit by a car, also on West End Ave, either at that intersection or at 97th several months ago, while she was crossing the street legally. She broke her leg badly, and is slowly recovering. She was lucky compared to these poor folks.

      As a driver and UWS resident/pedestrian, I think limiting WEA to one lane has slowed things down, but also created much more ill will amongst drivers and annoyance because you cannot advance more than a couple of blocks on one light. Hence the desire to run a red light, or a light that is changing, or has just changed, is very strong. This is a very common reaction. Furthermore, the change at 96th St. is awful. One of the big problems is that the turning light west onto 96th From WEA (heading north) is 1) too short a light, and 2) should be two lanes. There’s a huge bottleneck there all the time. So cars turning north onto WEA after exiting the WSH are still their “driving fast” mod and are quite tempted to go around the cars who are turning, and run the light. I see cabs do it frequently. This needs serious revamping.

      Prayers for the victims for a full recovery, and hopefully this woman driver will have her license taken away, at the very least.

      • Bruce Roth says:

        Considering that the old setup with 2 lanes always had double parked cars, there’s no difference now than before. They have made minor improvements at best.

        The real question is why police aren’t stopping drivers who speed up at yellow lights. Or why we don’t have enough red light cameras. This uninsured driver could have been stopped before the tragedy.

    20. Dale says:

      If you look at the damage on the car it is clear that the pedestrians were well on their way crossing, otherwise the damage would have been on the passenger side of the front of the car. The damage is on the drivers side. She clearly went through the red light. Doesn’t matter what she was or was not doing. She went through a red light directly into the path of two innocent people who were following the traffic rules. And then she’s uninsured to boot? Lock her up.