The bus driver who killed Citi Bike rider Dan Hanegby in Midtown last summer was sentenced to 30 days in jail on Thursday, the maximum penalty available under the law.
“Your honor, I’m sorry,” driver Dave Lewis told Judge Heidi Cesare at his sentencing appearance, Streetsblog reports. “I will never be able to forgive myself for my involvement in an accident that took a man’s life.”
Earlier this month, Lewis was convicted of violating the city's Right of Way law, a misdemeanor, and failure to exercise due care, a traffic violation. Lewis declined a plea deal offered by the Manhattan DA's office that would have punished him with a $1,000 fine, driver remediation classes, and a six month license suspension.
In the immediate aftermath of the crash, NYPD sources told the press that Hanegby, 36, had "swerved" away from a parked vehicle and into the path of Lewis's bus. Gothamist later viewed video that contradicted the police's account; the video showed Lewis clipping Hanegby as he squeezed between the cyclist and a van parked on West 26th Street. Lewis had also testified that he honked at Hanegby before recklessly attempting to pass him, instead of slowing down and waiting until there was more street space available.
Bus driver David Lewis outside the courtroom last month. (Max Rivlin-Nadler / Gothamist)
The video was shown at Lewis's trial, despite objections from Lewis's attorney, Jeremy Saland, that the video would bias witness testimony. “There are strong emotions in the cyclist community in how they’re treated," Saland argued. The attorney also claimed that Hanegby was “oblivious” to the bus behind him “and lost control of the bike.”
Hanegby with his wife and children. (courtesy friends of Hanegby)
Hanegby, who was the first Citi Bike rider to be killed on New York City streets, left behind a wife and two children. "My life and my children’s lives were ruined by a reckless decision of the driver. In one minute, our happy family unit was torn apart," Sasha Hanegby told the court in her heartbreaking victim impact statement.
How does a mother say to her children and tell them that he will never come back. How do I raise them to honor the spirit of the man that he was? How do I keep the memories alive for my 4-year-old daughter, who already has a hard time remembering? ...
No sentence will bring back my children’s father. Every single moment of our lives, we are reminded of the painful loss we have suffered and the unfairness. That said, as a mother and a widow, it is important for me to fight for some justice for Dan, my husband and the father of my children. In doing so, I ask you to assign the hardest punishment possible to the driver. I ask you, your honor, if this would be your family, how would you want justice?
Twenty-two drivers have been convicted under the misdemeanor portion of the Right of Way law in Manhattan, according to the Manhattan DA's office. Lewis is the second driver to receive a 30-day sentence under the charge in the borough; Deneen Smith was convicted of a misdemeanor after striking and killing a pedestrian while making a left turn onto 42nd Street from 11th Avenue, and was sentenced to 30 days in jail in May of 2017.
“The Mayor believes that this is a painful tragedy that no verdict will take away," Mayor's Office spokesman Seth Stein said in a statement. "We’ve worked to strengthen these laws to protect people, and hold reckless drivers accountable. It’s clear more needs to be done.”
Hsi-Pei and Amy Liao both testified at a City Council hearing in favor of the Right of Way law. The driver who killed their 3-year-old daughter, Allison Liao, walked free after a DMV judge acquitted him during a 45-second DMV hearing.
The Liaos are both members of Families for Safe Streets.
"We hope [Lewis' conviction] sends the message to all drivers that causing someone's death who has the right of way is not just a typical traffic violation," the Liaos said in a statement.