On a rainy Friday morning in Queens, tragedy struck at the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Woodhaven Boulevard. It was just after 8 AM on October 20th, 2023, when 63-year-old Krystyna Naprawa was completing her usual crossing guard duties, helping students safely navigate the busy streets on their way to school. As a dump truck made a right turn onto Atlantic Avenue, it collided with Naprawa, knocking her to the ground and tragically running her over.
Witnesses nearby saw the horrific incident unfold. Naprawa was rushed to the scene, unconscious, unresponsive, and sadly pronounced dead shortly after.
A Devoted Public Servant
According to the NYPD, Naprawa had served as a crossing guard at that same intersection for at least 5 years. She immigrated to the United States from Poland over 40 years ago and became a familiar face in the community. Neighbors and shop owners described her as always smiling, waving, and warmly greeting passersby each morning. She embraced her role of guiding children safely to school, often hugging them and reminding them to be careful.
David, Naprawa’s son-in-law, said she celebrated her 63rd birthday last month. Heartbreakingly, the accident came the day after the 2nd anniversary of David’s mother’s death, a pioneering NYPD transit detective.
Questions Around Responsibility
The driver of the truck, employed by a company based in New Jersey, remained at the scene following the collision. While no charges have been filed, the NYPD is actively investigating the circumstances.
The morning of the tragedy saw poor visibility on New York City streets due to rainy, cloudy weather. However, it remains unclear whether conditions played any role. Officials emphasized the need for all drivers to exercise extreme caution and avoid reckless behaviors like speeding or driving under the influence, which too often lead to preventable tragedies.
Ongoing Safety Concerns
Naprawa’s death marks the first on-duty crossing guard fatality in New York City in decades, a sobering reminder of the daily dangers these public servants face. It comes just months after NYC crossing guard positions were reduced, leaving many to voice renewed concerns over insufficient staffing and resources to protect guards and students.
Despite the ambitious Vision Zero initiative launched in 2014 under then-Mayor Bill de Blasio, traffic accidents and fatalities have steadily risen in recent years, especially among cyclists. Naprawa’s loss underscores the urgent need for expanded measures to improve road safety across the city.
Mourning a Life of Service
As news of her untimely passing spread, Naprawa’s family, friends, and the communities she served were united in mourning the loss of a devoted guardian and selfless public servant. Though her watch has ended, Naprawa’s memory is an inspiration, and a reminder that one life lost on city streets is one too many.
For a woman who spent each day helping New York City’s children safely cross intersections, her life tragically cut short serves as a call to action for a safer tomorrow.