Anatomy Of A Greenpoint Bike Accident

If a car slams you off your bike, the cops won't do anything

Anatomy Of A Greenpoint Bike Accident

On October 23, James Paz remembers something inhuman slamming into his bike, the terrifying sensation of his body hurtling through the air, and the instinct of trying to land with-out smashing his face on the Brooklyn asphalt. He remembers struggling to his feet and looking back for his girlfriend, Michelle Matson, who'd been pedaling behind him down Franklin Avenue on her beat-up cruiser. And he remembers that she wasn't there.

Michelle! He kept screaming her name. Michelle!

When he finally spotted his 29-year-old companion, she'd been thrown startlingly far ahead—her body was immobile and unconscious in the Greenpoint street. Her black bicycle, the vintage women's clunker that seemed so indestructible, was terribly mangled. Even though the hour was after midnight, concerned strangers emerged from who knows where, rushing to help. Someone called an ambulance. Several people phoned 911. James began to shake Michelle. He didn't know if she was dead or alive.

Stephen Conte, a twentysomething Greenpoint resident who'd just come from a Calyer Street loft party, saw the four-door sedan that hit them. "I've seen cars speeding in Greenpoint—it's not a new thing," he says. The eyewitness lives by McGuinness Boulevard, a Frogger-like Long Island City connector that New York news aggregator Gothamist has likened to Queens' infamous Boulevard of Death. "I don't look at every car that comes past me, but this time, I was like, 'Holy shit, this guy is going fast, and he's not really in control,' " he recalls close to 10 months later. "But this one screeched and swerved. Four or five seconds later, I just heard the crash and glass breaking."

Conte saw James crying at Michelle's legs. "She was motionless, she couldn't move at all. Her breathing—" To this day, his voice falters when he describes her condition. "It sounded as if she could stop breathing at any moment. It was very shallow and painful. She was barely there."

A squad car arrived and two officers surveyed the scene. An old green Saab parked on the western side of Franklin Avenue was newly missing its driver's side rearview mirror. Glass, apparently vestiges of a broken headlight, was all over the road. Michelle was a bloody heap, her blond hair caked brown and matted to her head, her right hand missing streaks of skin. "You could see she had a broken leg—it was bent," James recalls. He began to shake Michelle, and after what seemed like forever, she came to. At some point, she instinctively tried to get up, not realizing that her feet couldn't function; two girls immediately ran over, cautioning her not to move.

Conte hovered over them until the ambulance arrived, dictating the scene to a 911 attendant. "I asked James if he needed anything, he was so—his world was completely ripped from him. He wasn't very responsive."

In the confusion, James decided he should salvage Michelle's bike wreck for evidence. But when he tried to carry the destroyed relic, his back hurt too badly and he dropped the metal hunk—it was never seen again. By then, the paramedics were hoisting her onto a stretcher and snapping on a neck brace; soon after EMTs ushered him in there, too. Conte had been on his way somewhere that night, but canceled his plans. "I was very shook up."

After being treated for five broken ribs and a broken nose at Bellevue Hospital, James slept by Michelle's side, upright in a chair, for three days. Her skull was fractured. Her C-spine, the neck's cervical vertebrae, was broken. Her lower left leg was shattered; the break was so severe that doctors couldn't set the bones for a week. When the hospital relocated Michelle to a women's floor and James had to leave, the Viacom employee returned to their Bushwick apartment and found a business card left by a 94th Precinct detective. He called the station immediately. The officer on the other end delivered miraculous news: The hit-and-run weapon had been found. "We were like, 'Great, that's amazing! This guy's caught.' "

Not exactly. What James didn't realize is that even though the ditched car was found within 24 hours, a 1990 Nissan Maxima abandoned two blocks southeast of the accident scene, the police would never make any arrests. And that the detective assigned to the case would tell James, as the victim has consistently recalled for months, that the vehicle owner claimed he'd lost his keys at a local bar that same night and walked home—and that without an eyewitness putting him in the driver's seat, there was nothing that could be done. When James or Michelle asked what drinking establishment the auto owner had patronized and whether the police had questioned anybody there or if there were any clues in the car, the officer would become dismissive. They eventually stopped calling. According to the official police complaint, the unidentified hit-and-run driver's highest offense would be categorized a misdemeanor, which seemed preposterous, all things considered.

James and Michelle had been pedaling to Monster Island. It was the penultimate night of the five-day CMJ music festival, a period when an evening itinerary of disparately located live shows demands zigzagging all over town. The couple started off at Coco 66, a Greenpoint Avenue venue that had recently been under scrutiny by local cops, and after midnight on October 23, 2010, the NYPD raided the place and shut down the show. (The NYC Department of Buildings complaint—since resolved; the establishment's also been shuttered—cites the reason for the closure as overcrowding, specifically stuffing 350 people into a sprinkler-less room with one egress only equipped for 74.) Michelle hadn't even seen the band she really wanted to, Brooklyn's Light Asylum, and the bar was so prohibitively crowded they couldn't even order a drink, so they stayed out.

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388 comments
Ben F
Ben F

hahaha she even manages to look like a hipster when lying in a hospital bed. hahahaha that look on her face, so vogue....

Tjbikeplay
Tjbikeplay

so you're saying what? She biked into a car just to see if she could still hold up some whatever her image is? Why don't you try looking trendy layed with broken bones, shitting in a pan and never being able to sleep in a hospital! You're hilarious!

Real Creature
Real Creature

I ran a yellow (just beat the red) - cop followed me for four blocks, pulled me over and then told ME to be more careful - cars can (are allowed to) kill bicyclists.

tjbikeplay
tjbikeplay

So do you aim for cyclists when you're driving? Maybe when you cross the street on a "Don't walk" someone should aim for you. Is that allowed? I'm not wishing harm on anyone but really? So, cyclists are targets for you when you drive?

Thetruth
Thetruth

you sound like a real asshole.... whiny bitch

3rd_Man
3rd_Man

Probably some Polish guy; pissed about his rent going through the roof.

Long live diehipster.com

Moderator
Moderator

Actually it would have been nice if the same driver took out another 30-40 other assholes who were running reds and riding late at night with no lights on the bike. We could nominate the driver to get the Key for the City of New York. The assholes on bike are a menace. Hit them THEN drag the 10 blocks then back over them to loosen them off your bumper!

Moderator
Moderator

How do we not know these two were not drunk and they simply did not look when the swerved right into an oncoming car's path? I see bike riders all over NYC cut right into a cars path without looking. They look like like hipsters I see all the time on bike riding like they are the only one on the road, cutting off cars, turning without hand signals.

And what kind of lack of self respect would they have to actually sit down and do press? You take to the road on a bike at midnight on a bike without helmets with that "nothing bad will happen to me" disregard and all something like this story amounts to is THINNING OUT THE HERD"

KillerApp
KillerApp

Fast Eddie is back with his finger deeply embedded in his A$$. You fucking loser!

Guest4
Guest4

Honestly, who cares? The person who hit her drove away and hid, and that's the real crime. He/she left her in the street to die, and lost the opportunity to make any claims that she swerved in front of him or did anything like that. Use your brain and have some fucking empathy, asshole.

heyhohey
heyhohey

Moderator is thespinguru is edesposito is lee franklin.......the list of fake accounts this guy has is practically endless. He spews the same hateful, miserable bullshit using the same exact language/rhetoric and then pretends it's not all his accounts and calls anyone who points this out fucktards and then pretends to be all different people who just work in the same office.

KillerApp
KillerApp

Suck my dick Ed Esposito...you are a toxic loser!

heyhohey
heyhohey

No dumb ass, that was another person talking about getting your IP address when you posted under another one of your user names. Not me. And yet again, you, Ed Esposito, accuse someone of using their parents' computer. I mean really, how much more obvious do you get? The only one trolling here is you.

Moderator
Moderator

Sorry, but don't know who these people are, but looking at your history of comments, you seem to revel in troll-like behavior. Now go away llttle boy and stop playing with your parents' computer.

Weren't you bragging about getting somebody's IP address banned in one of your babblng posts?

morris_goodman
morris_goodman

Honestly, who cares that she died? People like that deserve no fucking empathy.

morris_goodman
morris_goodman

I neither want nor need empathy. Kindly go fuck yourself, asshole.

KillerApp
KillerApp

But you probably think you do..huh? Climb back under your rock maggot!

morris_goodman
morris_goodman

I'll find you, you spic cocksucker. You'll end up a wet spic stain on the pavement. And nobody will give a flying fuck.

morris_goodman
morris_goodman

What you're trying to say, Pendejo, is that you don't have the cojones.

Bendejo
Bendejo

I'd cut your dick off, but I do not have a knife that is small enough.

Bendejo
Bendejo

I am in Prospect Park every morning, come get me, you fucking coward. Think you can get to Prospect Park without hitting 6-10 cars. You know the saying, a man drives like he fucks. Then again is there a single Hasidic women that experienced a single orgasm? Find her for us, we will put the first one on the cover of the N.Y. Post.

morris_goodman
morris_goodman

Hey spic,Let me know where you'll be biking and I'll come and run you down with my Buick, cocksucker. One spic less - who's going to give a shit?

Bendejo
Bendejo

Actually not you racist mysoginyst. I have a lot of Jewish friends, who also hate the backward Hasidic community. That's right, most of the Jewish community that has past the 17th century hates you asshole Hassidic pieces of shit...Let me know where you will be walking in the bike lane again, so I can bike by and club you in the meaty part of your neck, asshole!

You will be the "chosen one" for a fat lump behind your skull when I catch the next one of you ugly motherfuckers walking in the bike lane!

morris_goodman
morris_goodman

Hey Pendejo, I know what you are. You're a jew-hating cocksucking spic.

Bendejo
Bendejo

Hey, stupid ass.....

I'm Hispanic, ducking retard!

Sorry, if it was not for arranged marriages, you ugly ducks would never get married.

Who the Fuck you kidding? You Hasids all visit black prostitutes

morris_goodman
morris_goodman

Hey Pendejo,Your white women are only good for working as prostitutes.

Bendejo
Bendejo

Hey Heebie,

Shut the Fuck up!

You cocksuckers filed suits because of "scantally dressed women cyclists" but everyone of you visit prostitutes... Ducking hypocrites.

Moderator
Moderator

Why should the taxpayers have to pick up the tab for two dumb assholes?

Moderator
Moderator

Fuck them. Too many stupid people on the earth taking up valuable oxygen. No lights, and they are the reason they both got splattered all over the pavement. Two less assholes biking around the city like they own the road

Bendejo
Bendejo

Everybody is a cyclist here. Get off the road assholes law breaking bike riders

Moderator
Moderator

Suck a cock... Fuck assholes who do stupid shit on bike. No helmets, no lights and drunk on bike. Now the tax payers have to pick up the tab for this cunt?

Phoenix
Phoenix

Hold still while I take a screen shot of you. I want to show all the world what kind, empathetic, and deeply moral people conservative bike-haters all are.

You too, Stevart.

Moderator
Moderator

Jiminnycrow,

And you think you opionion matters because....................?

STFU you feces nugget.

Go get a job scumbag!

jiminycrow
jiminycrow

Thanks for the reality check, Guest4.

Moderator, it is you and your kind, that make comment forums the pieces of trash they have come to be. Congratulations on being just another scrap of human litter.

terafied
terafied

If you're the moderator, I'd hate to read more commenters.

Stevart
Stevart

"If a car slams you off your bike, the cops won't do anything" Jeez, I wonder why? Like maybe because bike riders have gotten so obnoxious that they give you the finger for suggesting that they slow down a bit as the zip past you. Even the uber liberals of Park Slope have turned on those spoiled SOBs and want the bike lanes OUT...as they don't want any more pedestrian fatalities.

Phoenix
Phoenix

Yet another macho man who's glad that Village Voice doesn't reveal IP addresses.

Moderator
Moderator

And what would u do if you had someone's UP address? Probably go to their house and hit them with your purse, you semen swallower!

Moderator
Moderator

Commonplace in NYC is cyclists running red and not hand signaling when they make a turn. GOSPEL.

Moderator
Moderator

Is that not the truth. Sit on any Avenue in NYC. Count how many out of 100 stop at a red light. Free dinner if you can find 10!

terafied
terafied

They are not culpable, but they also need to realize that bringing charges that will not stick is not something law enforcement should do.

Moderator
Moderator

This is far from the truth because the NYPD does it all the time.

terafied
terafied

Of course, some do. It should not be the standard, and luckily it is not. Wasting prosecutorial dollars on a useless case is no better than sabotaging a good one.

terafied
terafied

Maybe you haven't read the story you're replying to, but in this case no one was either arrested or locked up, and that ostensibly is the problem.

Moderator
Moderator

But it does not change the fact police have falsely arrested and locked somebody up.

terafied
terafied

Oh, I'm not ignoring reality. I'm only saying that just because they make some poor choices, doesn't mean all prosecutors are going to file charges in every case.

Moderator
Moderator

Ignoring reality does not make it disappear.

terafied
terafied

Your anecdote does not a pattern make.

Moderator
Moderator

Oh please! I have a friend who was put through the system after being pulled ice by an out of uni cop who refused to show a badge. When he went to pull away the cop punched the back of his car and yelled "my foot, my foot!" faking that his foot was run over.

End result: the City paid him $38k. Now you know why the City is broke. This is probably one example of maybe 100,000 cases just like it. You think the NYPD gives a rat's ass about the amount of cases the DAs office has?

 
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