Spitz, who was crossing at 71st Avenue at 5 p.m., was hit by a driver making a turn too quickly. The driver, who stayed on the scene following the incident, insisted that once he saw Spitz crossing, he could not stop the car in time. Spitz suffered head trauma and bruising.
Three months later, the injuries he sustained in the accident still plague him.
The driver was slapped with a $250 failure to yield to a pedestrian fine, but Spitz’s daughter, Judy Berman, wants to see a steeper penalty.
“The $250 fine is totally unacceptable, it’s laughable,” Berman said. “The fine does not touch even a fraction of the financial pain my father has had paying copayments for the hospital and doctor visits and taking cabs to and from doctors.
“Not to mention the physical pain, suffering, discomfort and inconvenience of his birthday and holidays being ruined,” she added. “He could have been killed. He’s lucky to be alive, but it’s been life changing because it’s disrupted his whole life.”
A few weeks ago, 63-year-old Hung Ngo succumbed to injuries from an accident in January when the 82-year-old driver of a Toyota Corolla struck him while making a left turn on Metropolitan Avenue. The driver was also ticketed for failure to yield to a pedestrian.
Berman explained that in addition to physical pain, her father now suffers from anxiety when it comes to getting around on his own. He no longer feels safe crossing Queens Boulevard.
Spitz and Berman’s issue also extends to cyclists, who they believe should have the same responsibility.
Five years ago, Berman said two cyclists were racing each other on the sidewalk on 108th Street when one hit her and her father as he was waiting at a bus stop.
“He never knew what hit him because he was knocked unconscious and had to spend several days at the hospital,” Berman said.
From the incident with the cyclists, Spitz suffered a bruised eye socket, head trauma and broken ribs. A superintendent from a nearby building came out to help Spitz, but he wasn’t able to track down the cyclists.
Although they filed a police report, Berman knows that finding the culprits is near impossible. She is seeking a way for cyclists to take responsibility in the way that drivers do.
“Not only do we need more enforcement, but cyclists need licenses, registration and insurance,” Berman added. “There has to be some way to track them down, with technology it shouldn’t be impossible to do.”
And while the incident happened on a city sidewalk, Berman insisted that the same type of accident can happen in bike lanes. One of the dangers of the bike lanes, she noticed, was that sometimes cyclists ignore stoplights.
In addition to her father’s incident, Berman's mother and son have also been struck by bicyclists over the years.
She plans on meeting with Department of Transportation representatives in the near future with her father to discuss more enforcement on city streets.
“It’s time to crack down, it’s time to make them accountable and responsible,” Berman said. “The damage from a bicycle can be just as bad as the damage from a car. It can be deadly as well.”