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NYPD Can’t Tolerate Speeding Anymore Following Tragic Death Of 13-Year-Old Sarah Erdan A”H

(The following article was written by Michael Daly for the NY Daily News)

The NYPD insists it does not have even unofficial ticket quotas, but of course it does.

And it should.

What it should not do is waste cops on issuing summonses for double-parking and parking at bus stops.

Let the parking violations agents do that.

The cops should concentrate on violations that directly relate to traffic safety, violations such as 16- year-old Eric Hakimisefat committed as he raced at 63 mph with only a junior permit down E. 23rd St. in Midwood, Brooklyn, on Sunday.

Hakimisefat had little reason to fear being pulled over, for seeing cars stopped for speeding in this city is rare, rarer still off the highways. Drivers routinely travel at 20 miles over the speed limit on the bigger avenues with scant worry of being ticketed. A 2009 study postulated that a New York City driver could speed daily for 35 years without getting a ticket.

Hakimisefat just kept rocketing until he lost control and plowed into a house. He and another 16-year-old had on seat belts and escaped serious injury.

Thirteen-year-old Sarah Erdan was not wearing a seat belt. She cried out in pain and fear, then went forever silent.

The funeral was Monday in the Shomrei Hadas Chapels on 14th Ave. in Borough Park. Sarah had just started attending the Shalhevet High School for Girls, and her 54 classmates arrived in yellow school buses. They crossed the sidewalk in the rain.

“Very sweet, vivacious, full of life, good student, wonderful kid,” said Rabbi Zev Friedman of the schoolgirl. “She was looking to live life to the fullest.”

He and his colleagues had spoken to the students during the morning prayer session.

“We can’t answer all questions,” he said they told the grieving students. “There are things beyond our control.”

There also are things within our control, and they include speeding. We have had zero tolerance for public drinking and urination. Why not zero tolerance for driving more than 30 mph in the city streets?

Every few days, we witness some new traffic tragedy, and too often we shrug. We were all horrified when he learned that the medical examiner’s office had retained a young car- accident victim’s brain without the family’s consent. The wreck that made him a candidate for an autopsy barely reached public attention.

Often when a motorist or a pedestrian or a bicyclist is killed by a speeder, the culprit escapes even a ticket because velocity after the fact can be hard to establish. Velocity as calculated by the speedometer of a trailing police car or a radar gun is a snap.

Take it from me. I used the speedometer on my wife’s car to catch then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani going 70 mph after he announced a supposed crackdown on speeding back in 1998.

Let’s have a real crackdown now. The cops have had periodic crackdowns on using cell phones at the wheel, issuing 195,579 summonses in 2007 as compared to 75,599 for speeding. The disparity exists even though speeding was listed as the cause in nearly 40 times more crashes than cell phone use.

After the funeral yesterday, one of this year’s speeding victims was borne into the rain in a plain wooden box cloaked in black and loaded into the back of an outsize SUV.

The 13-year-old who wanted to live life to the fullest, who loved skateboarding and basketball and her dog, Max, was then driven off to the cemetery through streets where so many speed without the slightest fear of being caught.

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(Source: NY Daily News)

12 Responses

  1. Excellent article. But when these tragedies or even seemingly lesser violations of decency involve young people, let’s not forget parental responsibility: that includes telling kids NO, whether it’s staying out late, drinking, wearing inappropriate clothing, driving at night, smoking, hanging out with “the wrong crowd” etc etc etc.

    When did this trend of making our kids our buddies begin? When did parents abdicate all responsibility for setting standards and rules, including appropriate consequences?

    It doesn’t mean stopping kids having fun. It means making sure the “fun” is appropriate & acceptable TO ALL.

    Please don’t misunderstand: I have no idea if the driver’s parents gave him the keys or not, or if they bear any kind of responsibility for this tragedy. I don’t know them, I’m not judging them, I’m talking about what I observe. I’m talking in general. Our children need guidelines and being their friend isn’t going to do that. “Just say no” isn’t such a terrible concept.

  2. This was a terrible tragedy. The boy who drove the car will unfortunately be dealing with the consequences of his actions for the rest of his life. I don’t know what possessed him to get into the driver’s seat to begin with and G-d knows, we all wish he hadn’t.

    Something about the details of the story puzzles me though. It says the driver crashed the car at a speed of 63 miles an hour. While I know plenty of people who have sped down a street to catch the light or get to a bathroom double-quick, there is NO ONE I know that reaches a speed like that while driving down an average street in Brooklyn. Even driving down Ocean Parkway, I’ve never seen a car go that fast! Which got me thinking. Could this boy have simply pressed down on the wrong pedal in panic? I know when I first started driving and bumped the car in front of me while trying to get out of a parking spot, I freaked out and stomped down on the brake pedal- except it was really the gas pedal. I was panicking, and the more the wheels kept turning and churning instead of stopping, the more I panicked and the harder my foot pressed down on that gas pedal. I thank G-d my car had nowhere to go because it took what seemed like forever for my brain to compute the facts and finally straighten things out. Knowing that this boy reportedly kept saying that he tried to stop, I can easily imagine that what happened to me then (and I was in my early 20’s at that time, not a teenager with a junior permit) could have happened now and led to this tragic death.

    May Hashem comfort this girl’s family and give them strength during this time.

  3. nnuts – He may have pressed the wrong pedal???
    WHAT was he doing in the car without an adult in the first place?!?
    Why are 16 year olds even given permits?!?
    What was the tragic 13 year old victim doing in a car with a 16 year old “driver”?!?
    I can’t assign blame here, but some one or some oneS (in addition to the “driver”) is/are to blame!

  4. unfortunately sometimes the parents don’t know that kids just take the keys on their own especially if the parents aren’t home.
    Children need to be mature enough before being allowed to get a permit. Once they get the permit they feel they need to get behind the wheel.
    Problem as bestbubby notes is that parents these days are afraid to say no.

  5. To #6, It is NOT just with hindsight that everyone should realize (with foresight)that
    a) 16 year olds should not get permits
    b) 16, 17, and even 18 year olds who DO have permits should not be able to get behind the wheel(i.e. even have access to the keys) without an adult with them.
    c) Parents should NEVER let their child be a passenger in a car of a teenager who even HAS a driver’s LICENSE. They simply do not have enough driving experience.
    Let’s hope this horrible tragedy will at least serve as a wake-up call to other parents who may be lax about this issue.

  6. Myself and all my friends had our permits at 16 yoa (this was back in 1978). I do not believe that today’s 16 year olds are that much less mature. It is incumbent upon us (THE PARENTS) to ensure that these “junior” drivers abide by the rules, and yes, I allowed my children to get permits at 16. We paid for the driver’s education course. we practiced in parking lots before they were allowed any non-drivers ed street driving.

  7. after i spoke to one of the Hatzaloh members who were at the accident, he told me that had she been wearing a seatbelt she may still be here with us.

    I’m not trying to blame anyone, but I think this is one small thing that we can take upon ourselves (that saves life’s), even if your sitting in the back seat.

  8. Thank you Stieging– people are speaking about this young boy like he is a murderer. The reality is that 16 year-olds do stupid things all the time and 99.99% of the time nothing happens and they grow up to yell at other 16 year-olds for being stupid.

    The difference here is that the girl was not wearing a seat-belt so a 16 year-old’s stupidity was fatal. But not wearing a seat-belt, even for a minute, is also stupidity. There were TWO very reckless decisions in this accident and that needs to be acknowledged.

    So 1. yes, make sure underage drivers don’t drive (p.s. some states license drivers as young at 15– it’s arbitrary that in this state this boy wasn’t old enough to drive)


  9. Thanks Haleivi.

    Subsequently discussed this possibility with a number of people. We all agree that it’s the likeliest scenario.

    So sad.

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