Brooklyn, NY – Tragedy struck early this morning in the Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn when a 7-year-old boy was hit and killed by an NYPD tow truck while crossing the street with his mother.
The accident occurred around 7:45 a.m. at the intersection of Myrtle Avenue and North Portland Avenue, just outside the northern corner of Fort Greene Park. According to eyewitness reports, the young boy was walking to school with his mother, who was pushing his baby sibling in a stroller, when an NYPD tow truck made a right turn onto North Portland Avenue and struck the 7-year-old.
“It was heartbreaking. I heard the mother screaming, ‘They killed my baby!’ She was sitting in the middle of the street holding her little boy,” said a teary-eyed Mary Lynne Werlwas, a 24-year resident who witnessed the tragic aftermath.
The driver, a 54-year-old woman, remained at the scene following the collision. She was operating the truck in her capacity as a civilian employee of the NYPD and was transporting a vehicle to the NYPD tow pound in Brooklyn when the crash occurred.
Outpouring of Grief from Community Members
Neighbors from the surrounding NYCHA Whitman Houses housing project expressed both grief and outrage in the wake of the accident.
“That little boy was on his way to school, seven years old, a little kid from this community. That’s why people are angry,” said Antwoan Hayes, who had just dropped his own children off at school when the crash happened.
Tyrana Carter, who lives in Whitman Houses, said she often saw the boy playing in the neighborhood park. “He was energetic, full of life, a good kid. I saw a future for him,” she lamented.
The close-knit community quickly organized an impromptu vigil Thursday evening to honor the young victim. Students from his school paused to leave flowers and messages of condolence at the site of the accident.
History of Reckless Driving Along Myrtle Avenue
While the exact cause of Thursday’s tragic collision is still under investigation by the NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad, some residents believe it highlights an ongoing concern about reckless driving along the Myrtle Avenue corridor.
Myrtle Avenue is a major thoroughfare running through the residential neighborhood, lined with shops, schools, and restaurants. Residents have complained for years that drivers often speed excessively and run red lights on this stretch.
“This is terrifying to me,” said Debra Williamson, an 8-year resident of Fort Greene and mother of six. “I knew this was coming, but I don’t know what to do.”
Community leaders renewed calls for traffic calming measures along Myrtle Avenue, including reducing the speed limit, re-timing traffic signals, and increasing enforcement.
Elected Officials Demand Accountability
The death of the young boy also prompted outrage from local elected officials.
City Council Member Crystal Hudson, who represents the district, issued a statement criticizing the NYPD for “a lack of discipline and care in the field” when it comes to driving. She noted this is not the first time an NYPD vehicle has been involved in a deadly crash in her district.
“We have to hold the NYPD accountable the same way we expect to hold every other New Yorker accountable for obeying traffic laws,” Hudson said. “There is absolutely no reason why anybody, but particularly an NYPD tow truck, should be speeding through a light.”
Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso said in a statement, “A child has been robbed of the future that he deserved, and nothing can bring him back. However, we can and will pursue justice on his behalf.”
The community wants the NYPD to cover the costs of the boy’s funeral as a matter of justice.
“We need the police to pick up the funeral expenses 100% for the parent,” said Julie Sharpton, Tenant Association President of Whitman Houses.
NYPD Vows Full Investigation
At a press conference Thursday morning, Mayor Eric Adams called the young boy’s death “heart-wrenching for all of us.”
NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey visited the scene in the morning and said it was a “very tough scene to be at.”
“My heart goes out to the family of that young boy and his mother, his school, and his teachers who were also on the scene,” Maddrey said.
The NYPD promised a full investigation into the collision. The department’s Collision Investigation Squad is gathering evidence, including video footage and eyewitness accounts.
Advocacy groups like Transportation Alternatives say more needs to be done to prevent tragedies like this. They argue too many drivers feel entitled to speed and bend traffic laws without regard for human life.
“Every single crash is preventable,” their statement read. “New Yorkers have had enough with this administration’s excuses on street safety. How many more children have to die before Mayor Adams takes action?”
This heartbreaking incident comes two years after a 3-month-old infant was killed just 10 blocks away by a reckless driver. It remains to be seen whether NYC’s Vision Zero policy to eliminate traffic deaths will be enough without dramatic action.
For now, a community mourns the loss of one of its youngest members. But they will keep fighting for accountability and safer streets.