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Van Bramer’s Hit-and-Run Bill is Passed by the City Council

Photo: Jimmy Van Bramer (Twitter)

Sept. 24, 2014 By Christian Murray

The city council passed legislation yesterday that would fine drivers who flee the scene of an accident up to $10,000.

The Council voted 49-0 in favor of the legislation that was introduced by Jimmy Van Bramer following three hit-and-run deaths that have occurred in Western Queens in the past year.

“I am proud to have sponsored Intro 371, the ‘Justice for Hit and Run Victims Act,’” Van Bramer said in a statement. “I was moved to introduce this bill in response to the death of three people who were killed in my district by drivers who fled the scene.”

Last September, Luis Bravo, 19, was killed crossing Broadway in Woodside. Meanwhile, Karen Pheras, 20, was struck and killed around the same time crossing Queens Plaza North. Then in March, Kumar Ragunath, 64, was killed crossing Northern Boulevard in Long Island City.

“They all lost their lives because of the unconscionable actions of reckless drivers who showed no concern for the lives of these three people,” Van Bramer said. “We will never know if one or all of them could have been saved had the drivers done the right thing: stopped their car and called 911.”

All three drivers have yet to be caught.

“It’s something you never get over,” said Bravo’s mother, Martha Puruncajas, at a recent council hearing.”The pain is unbearable, the pain stays,” she said, adding that she hopes stiffer penalties would prevent future tragedies.

Under the bill, those who leave the scene of an incident without taking action would be subject to pay a civil penalty of up to $500 if property damage stems from the incident; $1,000 to $2,000 if a person is injured; and $2,000 to $10,000 if there is serious injury or death.

Currently there are no “civil” penalties in New York City if someone flees.

Criminal penalties are determined by the state lawmakers.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the bill into law. The law would take effect ninety days after he signs it.

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@Oleary…agreed shame on JVB and this transparent self promotion. .as for MMV , would you expect any less?.She has a knack for the obscene.

John O'Leary

I wrote to Van Bramer’s office to say that I, like my family members & some neighbors were appalled that he & the Speaker used this woman for self-serving purposes. Van Bramer responded & disagrees.

Politicians’ photo ops have a dual purpose, self-serving, publicity for themselves, & promoting public knowledge about a matter. That’s understood, a reasonable trade off.

But here, the woman’s grief stricken face, private & overwhelming grief now made so public, even with her knowledge & consent, has passed the line of decency. The aforesaid duality is not in evidence with the use of this picture. Rather, it screams “self-serving.” Frankly, to have used it is obscene.

Surely, the photographers took other photos of this woman & could have used them. Usually, pictures that depict family members whose loved ones have died in a tragic way portray the surviving family looking sad, somber.

My neighbors who feel the same way will not publish that, so this comment includes them as well.


John Michael O’Leary, Esq.

Mr. Cheese

JVB’s work is done. Now go on vacation or back to sleep until it’s time for another picture taking.


Great job Jimmy! I do take exception to the “communist” assertion….Ms. Viveros has the right to express her opinions and beliefs…you of all people should know better…this law is long over due.

Stay Loose

Why hasn’t this been a law on the books for years? I am doubtful that this will thwart hit and run drivers for a while until some drivers who are fined are well publicized in the media. But at least we don’t have to go through the crushing dismay when hit-and-run drivers get off scot free.

Jake M.

Why is there any opposition to traffic calming measures? I really don’t get why people in such a densely populated city value parking spaces and wide boulevards dissecting our community over quality of life.

Western Queens isn’t the suburbs. There is absolutely no need for the conditions to exist that allow this kind of reckless driving in the first place.

Pedestrians should be more careful and bikers should obey the law, I completely agree. That doesn’t negate our need to adapt our city to reflect how the majority of us get around and live our lives.


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