On Tuesday, Oct. 6, a 17-year-old Long Island college student was fatally struck by a car after he got out of his vehicle to check out the damage that had been done by a separate hit-and-run accident.
Anil John — a former basketball player at Islip High School — pulled to the side of Crooked Hill Road in Brentwood, N.Y. around 9:30 am, near Suffolk County Community College, after his 2011 Hyundai Sonata was involved in a minor fender-bender. The boy got out of his car and was subsequently hit by a 2009 Ford. John was pronounced dead at the scene.
The driver of the Ford was an 81-year-old man named Thomas Stapleton, of East Northport. He remained at the scene and was taken to the hospital for observation. He is not facing charges.
Friends and family grieve the death of their loved one
John’s friends and family are hoping police will be able to find the person who caused the initial accident. Suffolk County Community College students said the accident scene, which is just south of the Sagtikos Parkway and the LIE, is a spot drivers regularly speed through to beat the traffic light.
The student had recently started taking college classes in computer science and computer engineering. He had hoped to one day start a business with his cousin, who is also studying computer science. John is remembered as a loving person with a big personality, who was very family-oriented.
His former Islip High School basketball coach, Jamie Lynch, had nothing but the kindest words for him, saying he was “the nicest kid I’ve encountered in my coaching or teaching career.”
New York drivers rarely charged in fatal crashes
In 2014, The Wall Street Journal compiled data revealing that in both New York State and the city, motorists that cause fatal crashes are typically not charged with a crime. The reason is New York’s vehicular homicide and vehicular manslaughter statutes only apply to drivers who were drunk or on drugs at the time of the accident, which is one of the narrowest basis for conviction in the country, according to legal experts.
The number of people killed in motor vehicle accidents in New York City and the state have remained moderately steady since 2008. However, pedestrian fatalities in the city rose from 136 in 2012 to 168 in 2013 — a 23.5% increase, according to police department data. While it is possible to charge sober drivers behind the wheel in deadly crashes with crimes, such as negligent homicide, manslaughter or aggravated manslaughter, legal experts note this rarely happens. The reason for this is statutes for those crimes require a much higher degree of culpability than needed to charge a drunk or high driver with vehicular manslaughter or vehicular homicide.
Advocates have called for changes to these rules for years, but have seen very few results. This may soon change, as Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner William Bratton have described pedestrian deaths at “epidemic” proportions and have created a task force to combat the issue. In August 2013, the NYPD started investigating every crash that results in death or serious injury and has been working to expand its highway district.
If you have been seriously injured in a crash caused by a negligent driver — or a loved one has been tragically killed — contact the Long Island car accident attorneys at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye at 1-800-469-7429 to schedule a free consultation.