Cyclists create living wills asking NYPD to investigate their deaths

Riders raise their bikes in memorium of Solange Raulston, who passed away in 2009 at Nassau & McGuinness in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.  (Emily Anne Epstein/Metro)
Riders raise their bikes in memorium of Solange Raulston, who passed away in 2009 at Nassau & McGuinness in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. (Emily Anne Epstein/Metro)

Some cyclists are so sure the NYPD would not investigate their deaths in traffic that they are making living wills.

The environmental advocacy group Time’s Up! is collecting the wills on a website, where New Yorkers ask the NYPD to launch a full investigation if they are killed by a car and to make that information public.

About 25 bikers have submitted wills so far, Brooklynite Keegan Stephan said.

“The videos are a little chilling,” Stephan, 29, said.

Stephan created a will, one of many posted on their website.

In Stephan’s video, he says, “I’m making this video to say that if I’m killed by an automobile on the streets of New York City, I would like the NYPD to do a full investigation, and I would like that investigation report to be released to the public.”

He adds, “To me, this is no different than being an organ donor. If something tragic happens to me, I’d at least like it to help save the life of someone else.”

Previously, the NYPD only investigated crashes where the victim died or was likely to die. Many advocates argued that this meant no evidence was collected, even if someone was severely injured or did ultimately die.

Earlier this month, the NYPD announced they would also investigate crashes that involve serious injuries.

Just last week, a cyclist in Astoria was reportedly hit two times by the same van, while he was riding in the bike lane. He escaped with scratches.

Stephan has himself been hit by cars “countless times,” he said.

Recently, he was hospitalized when a car rear-ended him. The police report quoted the driver, who said Stephan turned in front of him, Stephen said, which he said was not true.

“If I didn’t survive, there wouldn’t be anyone around to tell the NYPD or the public that that isn’t what happened,” he said.

He added that making a will had been a “morbid” experience that made him again aware of danger in city streets.

“It’s just a reality check to be biking or even walking in New York City and not realize how dangerous the traffic is,” he said. “You’re kind of taking your life into your own hands.”

Killed by cars

Clara Heyworth, 28, was hit by a car in July 2011 as she stepped across a Fort Greene street to meet her husband, Jacob Stevens. Stevens filed a lawsuit against the NYPD, who he said did not do enough to investigate her case. Heyworth did not die at the scene, but she later died from her injuries. A delay in the investigation meant much evidence was missed, Stevens said, including skid marks, taking photos and finding witnesses. The driver was charged with driving while intoxicated but was not sentenced to jail time.

Mathieu Lefevre, a Brooklyn artist, was killed while on his bike in October 2011 when he was hit by a flatbed truck. His family sued the NYPD to get more information about the investigation into his death. His mother, Erika Lefevre, blasted the NYPD for not giving them any pictures of the crash scene, because the investigator’s camera was broken.

Last year, UPS worker Mike Rogalle died after he was hit by an SUV while walking on Beekman Street. An SUV reportedly lost control and careened into the sidewalk, according to the Daily News.

Follow Alison Bowen on Twitter @reporteralison.


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