In a heartbreaking tragedy, an 88-year old woman was accidently struck and killed by a taxi driver who was in his 16th hour of his weekend shift.
The elderly woman, identified as Luisa Rosario, was on the corner of Columbus Avenue and West 109th Street around 12:40am when she was hit. Police say she was within the crosswalk and she was about a block from her home while heading to her daughter’s house.
Rosario was known as the ‘grandmother of the neighborhood’ and was liked by everyone who knew her.
“She was like everybody’s grandmother,” said Elio Velez, 53, who works for the Columbus-Amsterdam Business Improvement District.
“If you needed a plate of food, she would have a plate of food for you. And she was everybody’s loved one. I’ve known her since I was a kid. I’m already in my 50’s, but she’s known me since I was a child,” says Elvin Garcia.
Driver Salifu Abubkar, a longtime taxi driver for more than 30 years, was charged with failure to yield to a pedestrian. His license was suspended by the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) after the accident.
His son, Khalil, said that his father would typically work a longer 16-hour shift on Saturdays. He added that his Dad has four kids ages 18 to 30 and works four days a week to help support them.
“My father is a considerate, kind man. I can’t see how he would hurt anyone,” he added.
Rosario’s granddaughter, Louisa Tejada, was stunned when she learned of Abubkar’s 16-hour shift.
“How is that possible? It don’t make no sense,” said Tejada.
TLC spokesman Allan Fromberg advised that regulations prohibit cabbies from driving over 12 straight hours.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio noted there has been a recent string of deadly crashes and it has been “a very tough week.”
Mayor de Blasio advised that the New York Police Department issued 30,000 tickets this year for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk – the same ticket that Abubkar received. That number is a significant leap compared to previous years and was likely the result from the implementation of the Vision Zero plan.
The Vision Zero plan was created to end traffic deaths and injuries on the streets of New York, and since its birth, the number of pedestrian traffic deaths has decreased since 2013. In 2013, 138 of the 235 traffic deaths were pedestrian. In 2014, 117 of the 223 traffic deaths were pedestrians. Close to the end of 2015, 107 of the 191 traffic deaths were pedestrians.
“Let’s be clear: the central problem is vehicles being used wrongly and endangering others,” de Blasio said.
YellowCabNYCTaxi.com Staff Writer