On May 24th, 21-year-old actress Roxana Sorina Buta was crossing Broadway at East 14th Street when a dump truck driver fatally struck her and left the scene. A witness said Buta had the light, and in the weeks following her death, her devastated mother pleaded with the driver to come forward and take responsibility. Of course, as we've seen time and again, drivers in New York can take "responsibility" for killing or injuring pedestrians without any serious consequences. An attorney representing Buta's mother says police have identified the hit-and-run driver: He's a DOT employee, and as of today faces no criminal charges. Chances are he never will.

As Streetsblog points out in this excellent report, the unidentified city employee simply has to claim that he didn't see Buta and he's off the hook in New York State. We've seen this twisted movie before: The flatbed truck driver who killed cyclist Mathieu Lefevre in Williamsburg last October told police he didn't see Lefevre. No criminality was suspected. Streetsblog sees a pattern that matches Buta's death:

Though he fled the scene of a fatal crash, thanks in part to porous statutes and judicial rulings that benefit killer motorists, it is unlikely that the driver who ran down Roxana Buta will be charged for causing a death. Even a charge for leaving the scene is no sure thing.

“The leaving the scene statute requires that the driver — whether or not he or she is blameworthy in the crash — knows or has reason to know that personal injury has been caused in order to be criminally charged,” says Nassau County assistant district attorney and traffic law specialist Maureen McCormick. “The fact that the injury results in death is a separate element.”

“There is some logic in the position that a person cannot be criminally charged for something they did not know occurred. The issue is what we can prove in terms of that knowledge.” In other words, under New York State code, “I didn’t see her” is a credible defense. As we reported following a 2009 Transportation Alternatives traffic justice summit, this is not the case in other jurisdictions.

The attorney representing Buta's mother (who happens to be the high-profile lawyer who represented an NYPD officer accused of rape) spoke to DNAinfo on what would have been Buta's 22nd birthday, declaring "The city is being incredibly derelict in resolving this issue." In other words: situation normal.