The mother, who lives in the area, was pushing her son in a stroller at the intersection of 116th Street and First Avenue in East Harlem. The two were crossing First Avenue when a driver in a blue Ford F-250 truck turned left, striking them, the police said.
“She was on the floor with the baby, holding the baby, blood all over,” said Marisol Medina, 51, who works at a nearby Dunkin’ Donuts and recognized the mother as a regular customer.
The tragedy comes as pedestrian deaths in New York City have increased slightly this year despite Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration working to make the streets safer. The city saw a record low in traffic fatalities in 2018.
Pedestrians accounted for more than half of the traffic deaths in 2019, with 104 killed compared to 101 in the same period last year, the city’s Department of Transportation said. In an alarming increase, 27 cyclists had been killed by vehicles this year, as of Sunday, compared to just 10 in the same period last year.
While the statistics are preliminary, the death of the 3-year-old boy, Bertin DeJesus, on Monday brings the number of people killed by vehicles this year to 203. That is the same number as all of 2018, even with three weeks left in 2019.
Recently, New York seemed to be bucking a national trend: In the United States, more pedestrians and cyclists were killed last year than in any year since 1990, according to a report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The deaths had risen significantly in urban areas.
The city has made progress toward reducing traffic deaths by providing safety upgrades, like so-called pedestrian head-starts at crosswalks, and reorienting what some safety advocates have called a car-dominated road culture.
De Blasio has made street safety one of his key initiatives, and under a plan known as Vision Zero, his administration aimed to eliminate all traffic deaths by 2024.
On Twitter, the mayor called Monday’s crash “a tragedy” and vowed a full investigation.
The driver in Monday’s crash, a 59-year-old man who has not been publicly identified, was expected to be arrested and charged later Monday, a police spokesman said.
Medina said she felt that the street corner where the crash took place was particularly dangerous for pedestrians.
“People around here,” she said, “they speed all the time.”
The mother and her son were in the shop where Medina works before the crash. The mother, who has not yet been publicly identified, ordered two bagels with cream cheese, hash browns and coffee, according to Medina.
After they were struck, Medina went onto the street, where she saw the mother crying and saying in Spanish, “I want my baby, I want to help my baby.”
The driver appeared distraught, Medina said.
“He started banging himself on the head like he couldn’t believe that he did that,” she said.
Bertin and his mother were rushed to Metropolitan Hospital Center in East Harlem, where he was pronounced dead, fire and police officials said. His mother was in stable condition and had not suffered serious injuries, officials said.
Officers spent hours investigating the scene of the crash. As they worked, a stroller draped with a teal rain cover remained in the crosswalk.
The crash Monday followed a weekend in the city marked by several other crashes. Early Sunday, a 23-year-old woman was killed in the East Flatbush area of Brooklyn after the car she was in rolled through a stop sign and another car slammed into it, the police said.
An off-duty police officer was arrested in connection with that crash and initially charged with criminally negligent homicide, vehicular manslaughter, reckless driving, speeding and driving while impaired by alcohol, the police said.
The evening before, seven people were injured, including several pedestrians, in a multiple-car crash in Manhattan, according to the police.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times .