A Question for the Supporters of the Right-of-Way Law

“When I realized what had happened, it felt like the whole world had just fallen on top of me,” she later said.

A criminal complaint filed by NYPD Highway Unit detectives in January charges Gallagher with the Right of Way misdemeanor for allegedly failing to exercise “due care” and failing to yield to a pedestrian.

What the criminal complaint doesn’t tell you is this – the city streetlamp at the intersection was broken. It was dark, dangerously dark, because the Department of Transportation failed to keep the streetlamp in working order.

“Contributing to this accident was a non-functioning overhead street light, which most probably significantly reduced the conspicuity of the pedestrian crossing the roadway,” according to an internal report by the MTA’s Office of System Safety that was issued in February.

The report by the MTA safety experts makes multiple references to images captured by video cameras on area buildings and on the bus itself, including these:

  • “It should be noted that the video captures the area of the crosswalk, which was poorly illuminated due to a non-functioning overhead street light.”
  • “As the pedestrian approaches the intersection…the pedestrian becomes completely obscured from view of the camera due to the low ambient lighting, which is attributed to the non-functioning overhead street light.”
  • “It should be noted that the pedestrian is outside of the headlight beams…”

The police complaint also doesn’t point out that the bus Gallagher was driving has a blind spot caused by the placement of the drivers’ side mirror. It obstructs the view of pedestrians particularly when they are turning left as Gallagher was turning.

The police complaint says Lavery was in the crosswalk but the MTA experts wrote he was “in close proximity to the crosswalk.”

The police complaint says the bus was traveling westbound on Willis Ave. but Willis Ave. is a north-south street. The bus was traveling north into the intersection.

Gallagher wasn’t arrested at the scene. Police told her she had to “surrender” herself at the Bronx courthouse. She was cuffed in the lobby and placed in a tiny holding cell.

She was fingerprinted and turned over to the Department of Corrections and placed in another cell with common criminals to await her first appearance before a judge.  The case is pending. If convicted, Gallagher faces a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail and a $250 fine on the top misdemeanor charge.