Police are investigating a hit-and-run involving a rental truck that killed a cyclist in Brooklyn as traffic safety advocates say the crash is the latest example of the challenge of cracking down on reckless drivers.
The truck struck Can Reng Ma, 54, at Avenue U and East Ninth Street in Sheepshead Bay at about 6 p.m. Tuesday, police said. The driver left the scene, and police say it's possible the driver may not have known that he hit anyone.
The deadly accident happened hours after Mayor de Blasio proclaimed city streets the safest they've ever been, with traffic fatalities and pedestrian deaths both hitting their lowest mark since 1910, the first year such statistics were kept.
Ma's relatives said through tears Wednesday that he worked as a laborer and emigrated to the U.S. from China seven years ago. Ma was on the way home from work when he was struck, just minutes from his home, the relatives said.
"I really want to ask him why he do that to my father," said the victim's daughter, Yan Pang Ma. "Just call the police or 911, maybe my father could be saved."
Ma's daughter and 17-year-old son remembered their father as a hard worker who came to the U.S. to build a better life for his family.
Witness Matan Vacrat, who manages a restaurant in front of where the cyclist was hit, said he ran out after the hit-and-run to find the victim dazed, bleeding and badly injured.
Ma was taken to Coney Island Hospital in critical condition. He died not long after arriving.
Paul Steely White of Transportation Alternatives says drivers in most hit-and-runs are not charged "because there's no evidence. Cops are not investigating those crashes."
Newly released video of a hit-and-run involving an 8-year-old boy in Queens last month illustrates that. In that case, the boy was walking in the crosswalk in Long Island City and was hit by a turning van.
The boy is OK, and the driver did stop -- but the driver was not charged.
Data from City Hall, Department of Transportation and NYPD also back up White's claim.
In 2014, there were 4,343 hit-and-runs causing injuries in New York City. That number jumped to 4,754 in 2015 -- an increase of 10 percent.
Of those hit-and-runs in 2015, 390 drivers were arrested for leaving the scene of an accident involving injury. That accounts for less than 10 percent of the incidents. Of the 30 deadly hit-and-runs, 16 drivers were arrested.
And hit-and-runs causing damage to other cars or property jumped to well above 35,000 in 2015 -- an increase of 13 percent since 2014. But there were only 130 arrests for leaving the scene of an accident with property damage, about 3 percent of all the hit-and-runs.
City Council member Jimmy Van Bramer, who sits on the council's transportation committee, said a new law with higher fines should help, but in the meantime, he wants cops and prosecutors to do more.
"We need more enforcement, we need more prosecutions," he said.
Police continue to investigate the Brooklyn hit-and-run and no arrests have been made.