Twice as many people have died in hit-and-runs in New York City in the first two months of the year when compared to the same time period in 2015, NBC 4 New York has learned.
Ten people were killed in hit-and-runs through the first two months of the year, compared with five in January and February 2015, according to figures from the city. It comes as other fatal crashes, where drivers stay at the scene, are on the decline.
The increase is bolstered by a violent eight-hour stretch over the weekend, when three pedestrians were killed by drivers who drove away from the scene.
Among the dead were 63-year-old Jose Contreras, who was run down near the Cross-Bronx Expressway Saturday evening, and 48-year-old Besik Shengelia, who was killed by a hit-and-run driver in Ozone Park early Sunday. A third man whose identity hasn't been released was killed in Park Slope Sunday, as well.
City officials note that the data is from a small sample set and that it's early in the year, but Mayor de Blasio said Monday that in some cases the penalties for driving off after a fatal crash aren't as bad as if a driver stays.
"The penalties are severe but they should be even more severe and we will certainly work for that," de Blasio said.
Law enforcement officials say that more cameras would help drive down hit-and-runs.
Still, some people living in the area say that the hit-and-runs are just a sign of the times.
"I think what we are seeing with these deadly hit-and-runs is a new phenomenon and indicates that drivers are really irresponsible," said Barbara Lawrence.
Anyone with information on the fatal hit-and-runs should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.