A Brooklyn community is demanding change after a 4-year-old girl was struck and killed by a vehicle while walking with her mother Sunday.
Luz Gonzalez was the ninth child killed by a driver in Brooklyn this year, according to borough president Eric Adams. He marched with Luz's family and other community members to the site of the girl's death, by Wyckoff Avenue and Hart Street in Bushwick, Wednesday evening.
Luz was the youngest of five children and the only daughter, according to family friends. She was on the way to her father's birthday celebration when a driver pulling out of a laundromat on Hart Street hit and killed her.
"Luz in English means light, and [her mother] named her Luz because that was the light of her eyes," Luz's godmother Fabiola Mendieta told News 4.
Now Adams and other elected leaders are calling on the state senate to vote, extend and expand a school-based speed safety camera program. The measure extending the four-year-old school zone camera program past its July 25 expiration stalled in the Senate as lawmakers ended their six-month 2018 session early Thursday morning last week.
"Yes, speed cameras would not have saved the life of this child, but it is the absence of speed cameras that are putting our children in harm's way," he said.
"The numbers show that traffic lights are not helping with fatalities and injuries," he said. "We need to re-examine and look at speed cameras."
Brooklyn state senator Martin Golden, a Republican, has flip-flopped on issue of speed cameras -- first against them, then supporting them, and now sponsoring a measure for more stop signs and traffic lights instead of cameras. According to city records found by the News 4 I-Team, Golden's own car has been issued nine tickets for speeding in a school zone since June 2016.
News 4 asked Golden's office about the speed cameras but the senator did not agree to a on-camera interview nor address his tickets. A spokesperson would only say, "Senator Golden remains committed to student safety and ensuring that the city's speed cameras will not go dark on July 25. That has not changed, and it will not. Senator Golden was part of the first push to bring speed cameras to our street," adding, "He will continue to fight to keep them on and enhance street safety around our schools."
Supporters of the speed cameras say speeding violations in school zones have dropped by 60 percent in areas where the devices are located. Under the agreement that allowed 140 speed cameras to be installed, the Legislature must approve extending the program or the cameras have to be shut down in late July.
Democratic Sen. Simcha Felder, of Brooklyn -- who sides with Republicans in the senate to give each party 31 votes in the 63-seat chamber -- said he wants revenue from speed camera fines to be used to place police officers at city schools, a move Assembly Democrats oppose.
Some legislators floated the idea that they might return for a brief special session to try to reach a deal on the bill, but Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, of the Bronx, dismissed the idea.
"It is not my plan to bring the Assembly back," he said, saying it would be up to Senate Republican Leader John Flanagan to call his chamber back to approve the speed camera bills already passed by the Assembly.
A Flanagan spokesman blamed Heastie for putting the brakes on speed cameras, one of numerous key issues that didn't get done by the Legislature.
"He is solely to blame for what didn't get done because for weeks he folded his arms and refused to discuss any of the key issues before the Legislature," Scott Reif said.