Suspect Arrested in Fatal Brooklyn Hit-and-Run

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A driver who may have been involved in a fatal hit-and-run in Brooklyn that left a 58-year-old teacher dead has been arrested and charged and his record showed he has had two other driving-related incidents.

The driver who allegedly struck and killed a Brooklyn schoolteacher while speeding in May 2021 had two driving-related incidents in his past. As Streetsblog reported last week, the New York Police Department has said it arrested and charged the suspect, Tariq Witherspoon, a 30-year-old EMT “who hit and seriously injured a cyclist in 2017,” two years after he allegedly “allowed an unlicensed driver” to operate his vehicle, who allegedly “drove carelessly” and speeded.

The driver was charged with “negligent homicide, leaving the scene of a crash, reckless driving and speeding” in connection to an incident on May 18, 2021. He was allegedly driving a Rolls-Royce above the speed limit when he hit the victim, Matthew Jensen, on McGuinness Boulevard in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood. Jensen, 58, was crossing the street at the time, and died as a result of the collision. Witherspoon allegedly drove away from the scene. 

According to Streetsblog, Witherspoon pleaded not guilty to the charges and “was held on $75,000 bond or $15,000 cash bail.”The report goes on to describe the 2015 incident in which he permitted an unlicensed driver to operate his Porsche. She allegedly drove it into another, parked car, “causing one of the passengers in that car to suffer permanent injuries.” 

The street where the alleged hit-and-run occurred, McGuinness Boulevard, has seen its share of tragedy. As Streetsblog notes, two individuals were killed “within months” on the street in 2009 and 2010. A 2010 study by Transportation Alternatives of the intersection of McGuinness Boulevard and Nassau Avenue reportedly “found that drivers violate traffic laws every 17 seconds — and fail to yield to pedestrians every two minutes.” 

Community advocates have since been calling for city officials to make the Boulevard safer, forming a working group that found “two out of three motorists speed on McGuinness.” This led to a reduction of the speed limit in 2015, per Streetsblog, but few other changes, and more vulnerable road users have died in the years since. Before former mayor Bill de Blasio left office, he committed to a $40 million redesign that is still in its planning stages. 

More information on the arrest in the McGuinness Boulevard fatal hit-and-run incident is available via Streetsblog.

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