Authorities are indicating that the collision that killed an NYPD traffic agent in Midtown yesterday afternoon was accidental. Kalyanarat Ranasinghe, 71, was struck by a large commercial cleaning truck while he was directing traffic on 44th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues. According to police, the truck driver was pulling out of a spot at 6 East 44th Street when he struck the agent, who then became pinned underneath the front passenger-side wheel of the truck.
A doorman told the Post that Ranasinghe was on his cellphone when he was killed, while NYPD spokeswoman Kim Royster told the Times that it was unclear what the agent was doing at the time of his death. Ranasinghe was pinned under the truck's wheel for more than two and a half hours before authorities removed his body.
The truck driver, a 43-year-old man, remained at the scene. An NYPD spokeswoman said this afternoon that no summonses had been issued in the incident. After the truck had stopped, a bus operated by Cornell collided with the cleaning truck, but there were no injuries.
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly arrived at the scene around 3:30 p.m., an hour after the incident happened, and told reporters that the agent's death appeared to be accidental. “It’s a dangerous job, and they don’t make a lot of money,” Kelly said. In a statement, Mayor Bloomberg added, "On behalf of the entire city of New York, our thoughts and prayers are with the Ranasinghe family.”
Ranasinghe, originally from Sri Lanka, had asked to be transferred from his post just ten days ago, citing fatigue. He began working as a traffic agent in 2006. “He was an all-around man,” his wife of 44 years, Dammika Ranasinghe, told the Daily News. “I need him back.”