A 67-year-old Brooklyn pedestrian on her way to work was killed by the driver of a tractor trailer on Wednesday morning. The driver fled the scene, according to authorities, leaving the victim unconscious in the crosswalk at the intersection of Flatbush and Nostrand Avenues. She was pronounced dead just before 5 a.m.
The woman has since been identified as Linda Douglas, an East New York resident. Her husband, John Douglas, told Gothamist on Thursday that his wife was commuting to her job as a nursing assistant in Harlem when she was struck by the driver. The couple moved to Brooklyn in the 1970s from Aruba, he said, and his wife was just a few weeks away from retiring.
"Linda was the most beautiful, giving, loving person I've ever met in this world," Douglas said. "It's very devastating."
According to police, the driver was located and questioned on Wednesday evening, but was subsequently released without charges because he claimed "he didn't know he struck the victim." Asked how such a conclusion was reached within hours of Douglas's death, an NYPD spokesperson said it was "good police work." The driver's identity and the circumstances of his questioning are being withheld at this time ("he's not a criminal," explained the spokesperson).
According to Douglas, it was a "big relief" when detectives called him at midnight last night to say they'd found the driver. "But I don't know why they didn't arrest him," the husband added. "Anybody can say, 'Oh I didn't see them, talk to my lawyer'...we are human beings. You don't run over somebody and just keep going."
Asked about the driver's defense, and whether his office supports charges for hit-and-run drivers who claim ignorance, a spokesperson for Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez told Gothamist "this incident is under investigation."
The fatal hit-and-run marks at least the 49th pedestrian or cyclist death on the streets of New York City in 2019 — a nearly 30 percent increase from this time last year. According to a study published last month, pedestrian deaths nationwide are the highest they've been in 30 years.