The bus driver who struck and killed 36-year-old Dan Hanegby as he rode a Citi Bike on West 26th Street in June has been arrested and charged with violating the Right of Way Law, according to the NYPD. Hanegby was the first Citi Bike rider to die while using the bike share system, which launched in 2013.
Dave Lewis, 52, of Poughkeepsie, was arrested at the 10th Precinct in Chelsea on the evening of September 5th and released with a desk appearance ticket, police said. He has been preliminarily charged under New York's Right of Way Law, a misdemeanor, and failure to exercise due care, a traffic violation. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court on October 31st.
The circumstances of Lewis's arrest were not immediately clear, and attorney information was not available.
Hudson Trail Lines confirmed in June that it operates the private bus involved in the crash. Spokesman Sean Hughes told Gothamist at the time that the company was cooperating with authorities and that "safety is our top priority."
Hughes did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Lewis's arrest, or whether Lewis still works for Hudson Trail Lines.
Security camera footage viewed by Gothamist this summer appeared to contradict preliminary NYPD statements and media reports that Hanegby "swerved" away from a parked vehicle before fatally colliding with the moving bus on West 26th Street between Eighth and Seventh Avenues.
Police said Hanegby was traveling east along the south curb around 8:15 a.m. on June 12th, approaching an unoccupied parked van. "Surveillance footage shows the cyclist looking right as he is swerving left," an NYPD spokesperson said in the aftermath of the crash.
However, in one video, a repaved section of the street leading up to the spot where Hanegby was killed forms a line parallel to the curb. Hanegby is seen biking along this line and continuing along the same trajectory, without altering course or swerving, up until the moment he goes down.
A second video shows the bus accelerating behind Hanegby just as he begins to bike between a white commercial van parked to his right and a black SUV parked on the opposite side of the narrow one-way street.
The stretch of West 26th Street where Hanegby was struck. (Emma Whitford / Gothamist)
Asked if the police department had changed their narrative of the crash since June, an NYPD spokesperson responded, "The arrest was made following an investigation."
Hanegby's friends and family did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
Attorney Steve Vaccaro, who often represents cyclists and pedestrians involved in traffic crashes, said he believes higher charges are merited, based on his outside knowledge of the case and personal experience in court.
"Based on what I understand, this driver should have been charged with criminal negligence," he said. "From what I know of this case, it meets the standard of criminal negligence because there was a gross deviation from the standard of care. In that, the street was bottlenecked and [Lewis] decided to ram his way through that pinch point and left it to the cyclist to keep himself safe."
Vaccaro added that the Right of Way Law is a hard-won victory for transit advocates. Previously, unless an NYPD officer witnessed a crash, most drivers had to be intoxicated in order to face consequences.
"An unclassified misdemeanor is a not serious enough penalty," he said. "On the other hand, before the Right of Way Law, there was no penalty for these drivers."
Caroline Samponaro of Transportation Alternatives also said she believes the charges are not strong enough.
"I think it's another example of Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance not using his position to set a higher standard here," she said. "We've seen the ways in which it still falls on the shoulders of the families of victims to insist that DAs bring more appropriate charges to better reflect the outcome of death. The fallback is not to do that."
Though the DA has yet to formally charge Lewis, investigations by the NYPD's Collision Investigation Squad typically involve the DA's office. Vance's office declined to comment on the case ahead of Lewis's arraignment.
Buses must adhere to truck routes, and West 26th Street is not one. Most buses can only stray "for the purpose of arriving at his/her destination" by the most direct route according to DOT traffic rules. In the aftermath of Hanegby's death, the local community board reported lax truck route enforcement stretching back months.