Sammy Cohen-Eckstein, 12, killed by van near Prospect Park

Samuel Cohen-Eckstein, 12, was killed when he was struck by a van on Prospect Park West. He was chasing a ball that rolled into the street. Credit: Sammy Cohen Eckstein's Bar Mitzvah website
Samuel Cohen-Eckstein, 12, was killed when he was struck by a van on Prospect Park West. He was chasing a ball that rolled into the street.
Credit: Sammy Cohen Eckstein’s Bar Mitzvah website

The death of a 12-year-old boy struck by a van while playing near Prospect Park Tuesday night has shocked the Park Slope community and prompted renewed calls for increasing street safety.

Sammy Cohen-Eckstein, 12, was playing near his home on Prospect Park West when his ball rolled into the street around 5:15 p.m., police said.

Running into the street to retrieve the ball, Cohen-Eckstein was struck by a white van. He was taken to Methodist Hospital but could not be saved.

The van’s driver remained at the scene, but no arrests were made and no summons were issued.

The young boy was planning to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah in just a few weeks on Nov. 16.

Cynthia Greenberg, the president of Kolot Chayeinu, Cohen-Eckstein’s synagogue, expressed sorrow for the family’s loss.

“All of us at Kolot Chayeinu/Voices of Our Lives share their heartbreak at Sammy’s untimely and tragic death,” she wrote in an e-mail. “Our hearts and prayers go out to them and all who knew and loved Sammy and are mourning his loss.”

“We pray also — as always — for the safety of all children, here on our city streets and all around the world,” she added.

Local City Council member Stephen Levin said he had been in touch with the local precinct commander and had been told that there was no alcohol involved, and police believed the driver had not been speeding.

“But they’re doing a full investigation, as they should,” Levin added.

Cohen-Eckstein was just one of three children who has died in traffic accidents in the last three weeks.

On Sunday night, three-year-old Allison Liao was struck and killed while crossing a Queens intersection with her grandmother. Five-year-old Kiko Shao was hit by an Escalade in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

Citing these deaths, Transportation Alternatives called on the NYPD Thursday to use data-driven traffic enforcements to increase pedestrian safety.

Concilman Peter Vallone, the chair of the City Council’s public safety committee, held a hearing examining expected reforms to the NYPD’s collision investigations last week.

The NYPD recently changed the name of their Accident Investigation Squad to the Collision Investigation Squad, signaling a shift in approach.

“I’ve been saying for a long time, it’s impossible that the city has treated every one of these as accidents, virtually never bringing criminal charges,” Vallone said. “If these accidents keep happening, we need to look at whether or not the area is problematic.”

That stretch of Prospect Park West used to be hugely problematic with regard to speeding, officials noted.

Levin recounted how those speed safety issues were part of the argument used to bring in the Prospect Park West bike line, and narrow the road down to two lanes instead of three.

Doug Gordon, a local father of two young children, also remembered when the statistics for the number of drivers who were speeding on Prospect Park West were “pretty astounding.”

It’s better now, he said, but it’s still “not uncommon at non-rush hours to see drivers who are clearly going well over the speed limit.”

And while local parents appreciate city officials’ efforts to beef up penalties for reckless drivers, Gordon said that’s not the point.

“I don’t want someone to investigate my kid’s death, I want my kid’s death to be prevented,” Gordon insisted.

He noted the unavoidable proximity to young children: the street is flanked by a park on one side and residential buildings on the other.

“It shouldn’t be a surprise that there are going to be kids playing on the street, near the street,” Gordon said. “I do think the speed limit near parks should be treated like schools and be much lower than everywhere else.”

Levin said he is also in favor of expanding speed safety measures, particularly in the form of slow zones “in every residential neighborhood.”

A slow zone pilot program kicked off recently in Boerum Hill. Levin believes Park Slope, a neighborhood known for being home to a large volume of families, should be part of the program.

Gordon wants to go a step further.

“We have 15 mile-an-hour school zones in places when schools are in session, but you think about this city and it’s just a collection of neighborhoods,” Gordon said.

There’s no need for cars to be driving at 30 miles per hour, Gordon argued. And slower speeds would benefit everyone involved, giving drivers more reaction time and lessening the severity of injuries if they occur.

“A lot of cities around the world, especially in Europe, are moving toward a blanket 20 mile-per-hour speed limit in their cities and I think New York should move in that direction too,” he explained.

Gordon has a 4-year-old daughter and an 8-month-old son and said that as a parent of young children, reckless drivers are a huge source of anxiety.

“We’ve had a lot of near misses. We’re a lot like plenty of other families,” he said. “You just hold your kid’s hand very tight, but you also know there are some things you can’t control for.”

“The scariest thing I do everyday is walk my kids to school,” he added.

 

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter: @danielleiat
Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter: @AnnaESanders


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Monday is the deadline to register for Pennsylvania…

If residents want to vote in the May primary, which includes a vote for a new City Council member, today is the deadline to register.

National

Miss America thinks school should reconsider discipline of…

A Pa. student was suspended for asking Miss America to prom.

Local

Aria Health Torresdale workers caught selling prescription drugs

Two Aria Health at Torresdale employees were fired amid accusations they sold prescription drugs out of the Northeast Philadelphia campus.

National

Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter died Sunday from prostate cancer…

Former U.S. professional boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, who spent 19 years in prison for murder and then was released after it was determined he did not get a fair trial,…

Television

‘Mad Men’ recap: Season 7, Episode 2, ‘A…

Peggy and Lou are horrible, Bert's racist, Don is honest(ish) and Roger and Pete are frustrated. "A Day's Work" not quite worthy of "This Will Be Our Year."

Television

'Game of Thrones' recap: Season 4, Episode 3,…

The problem with the devil you know is that ignoring them doesn’t mean they simply lie in wait. It allows them time to do things…

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

NHL

Ray Emery steps up in Flyers’ Game 2…

Sure, he allowed two goals in the Rangers’ first four shots Sunday afternoon, but it’s about how you start, not how you finish.

NHL

Flyers come from behind, even series with Rangers

The Flyers overcame a two-goal deficit to get a much-needed win at Madison Square Garden Sunday.

MLB

Phillies get set for four against the Dodgers

The Phillies will face tough starting pitching out west against the Dodgers this week.

MLB

Phillies notebook: Cole Hamels returns this week

The Phillies should receive a big boost when Cole Hamels returns during the Dodgers series.

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.