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Following Wave of Hit-and-Run Deaths in Western Queens, Van Bramer Aims to Get Tough on Those Who Flee

Sept. 4, 2014 By Christian Murray

In the past year, three pedestrians were run down and killed while crossing the streets of Western Queens. On all three occasions, the driver fled. And on all three occasions, no one has been caught.

This was the story behind the death of Luis Bravo, 19, who was killed last September crossing Broadway in Woodside; as well as Karen Pheras, 20, who was killed around the same time crossing Queens Plaza North; as well as Kumar Ragunath, 64, who was struck and killed in March, crossing Northern Boulevard in Long Island City.

All three dead, with their grieving relatives not knowing what happened.

In the wake of these incidents, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer introduced legislation earlier this year calling for tougher penalties on drivers who flee the scene. The bill was discussed at a Transportation Committee hearing in city hall yesterday and the families of some of the victims spoke.

“It’s something you never get over,” Maribel Egipciaco, a relative of Luis Bravo, told CBS News yesterday.”The pain is unbearable, the pain stays,” she said, adding that she hopes stiffer penalties could prevent future tragedies.

The bill would impose a maximum “civil” penalty of $5,000 for any driver who hits someone and takes off.

“We need to establish penalties that deter people from the leaving the scene,” Van Bramer said. “People should stop and call the police and see if they can help…leaving them to die is brutal and cruel and people need to be punished.”

Currently there are no “civil” penalties in New York if someone leaves the scene of a hit-and-run.

Criminal penalties are determined by the state lawmakers.

“When Luis Bravo was struck, we don’t know if he was alive afterward,” Van Bramer said. “Maybe he could have been saved if he got medical attention in time.”

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House of O'shea

I think public service ads in english and other languages would be more effective. Can never put a price on human life. These drivers are going at 45-60 in a twenty five mile zone. Where are they going?
RIP Luis.

Just Asking

In that it is violation of STATE law to leave such a scene, does the all-powerful NYC council have the legal standing to create such a penalty? Or is this more lipstick on a pig?

ėürõ snòb

Maximum $5000 penalty if you flee the scene? Idiots, wheres the incentive to stop? If you flee and you get away with it you get no jail, no record, you keep your job, friends and all is well, at the measly chump change its worth the risk to a jerkoff criminal.

Make it a 1 mil penalty and people will pay attention. americans have absolutely no backbone when it comes to criminals. bucnch of wussies


I doubt that a civil penalty of $5,000 is sufficient to motivate a driver to stop after hitting a person. I think that a person who may be inclined to leave the scene decides to stay or go based on whether he or she thinks they may be caught. More and better investigation tools, like license plate readers, are needed. Criminal penalties and license suspension should also be adopted.


$5k?? That’s a joke.

Leave the scene of an accident and there should be minimum jail time plus a hefty fine of at least $50k.

We’re talking about people’s lives here.


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