An allegedly drunk driver who slammed into a group of cyclists, critically injuring one woman, in Borough Park on Sunday morning has been arrested on charges of vehicular assault, driving without a license and driving while impaired, police said Monday.
Antonio Pina Morocho, a 39-year-old Brooklyn resident, struck the four cyclists just after 9 a.m., as they were waiting for a red light at 39th Street and 12th Avenue, police said. A 55-year-old woman was pulled under Morocho's Dodge minivan, and had to be removed by firefighters. She is currently in critical condition at Maimonides Hospital.
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The three other victims refused medical attention at the scene, according to the FDNY.
The crash occurred during the NYC Century Bike Tour, an annual ride that draws some 6,000 cyclists to four separate routes throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. Transportation Alternatives, a group that advocates for safer streets, hosts the event, which is intended to "showcase a carefully curated section of the city's now 1,000+ miles of bike lane networks and greenways."
Witnesses to the crash say that Morocho appeared to intentionally drive into the group of about 25 cyclists who were stopped at the red light. "He looked pretty crazy right before he ran us all over," Brandon Painter, whose foot was caught under the minivan, told the Daily News. "He looked like he was intent on running this group of people all over."
This is the first year that a serious collision has occurred since the inaugural Century Bike Tour in 1990, according to Caroline Samponaro, a spokesperson for Transportation Alternatives.
"This is devastating news on what is supposed to be a joyful day of cycling in New York City," Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, said in a statement. "Every New Yorker who ride a bikes deserves to be able to travel safely and free from harm. Our thoughts are with the family of the victim, and we are praying for her speedy recovery."
"It is commendable that [the police chief] and his team have done their investigation and swiftly charged the driver," added Samponaro. "But it's besides the point because this never should have happened."