A 99-year-old Riverdale resident was killed a block from her home by a driver who struck her with an SUV while she was in the crosswalk, police said Friday.
The crash occurred Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. when Bernice Schwartz was crossing the street at the intersection of Oxford Street and West 235th Street. The 53-year-old driver of a Mazda CX9 was headed east and was trying to turn left onto Oxford Street, but he ran into Schwartz in the process.
Schwartz, whose life was chronicled in a book written by her daughter-in-law, suffered severe head trauma and was rushed to St. Barnabas Hospital, where she later died. She would have turned 100 in February.
The driver remained at the scene and had not been charged as of Friday, police said.
It was not clear why the driver was not issued a summons for failing to yield to a pedestrian, an offense Mayor Eric Adams promised the NYPD would be “strongly” enforcing. A police spokesperson said the investigation was ongoing.
Born in 1923 in the Bronx, Schwartz was the eldest daughter of Eastern European Jewish parents, according to the biography. She was involved with the Bronx Y; did a stint in the Women's Land Army, tending to farmland in the Hudson River Valley during World War II; studied in Israel in 1949; and married army veteran Arthur Schwartz. They raised their family in Teaneck, New Jersey before returning to Riverdale later in life.
“Can you imagine at over 99 she lived on her own since her beloved husband Arthur … passed away a few years ago. Took care of herself, shopped, cooked, did laundry, cleaned all by herself,” her daughter-in-law Judy Tydor Baumel Schwartz said in an email.
“Her mind was also as sharp as ever,” she added. “Did crossword puzzles in the New York Times in pen as she was never wrong.”
Through June more than 20,000 drivers were hit with summonses for failing to yield to pedestrians, a 33% increase from the same time period last year, according to NYPD data. In January, the mayor promised to double enforcement of the charge.
In February, another near-centenarian, Holocaust survivor Jack Mikulincer, was hit and killed in south Brooklyn by an SUV driver, who was later issued a failure to yield summons, police said.
Schwartz’s death hit close to home for Irma Rosenblatt, an advocate with the group Transportation Alternatives, whose own 87-year-old mother was also killed by a turning SUV driver in Riverdale eight years ago.
“It is heartbreaking and appalling that eight years later, seniors are still being killed on dangerous streets in Riverdale and across New York City,” she said. “How many more seniors have to die?”
So far this year, 59 pedestrians have been killed on city streets, 10 fewer than last year, according to data from the Department of Transportation.
“In the face of a national uptick in traffic violence, we remain steadfast in our commitment to Vision Zero,” said DOT spokesperson Vin Barone.