Anatomy Of A Greenpoint Bike Accident

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

Together, James and Michelle see a lot of bands, predominantly of the DIY strain, and James, lean and tall, looks the part. A recognizable Northern Brooklyn fixture, he's the kind of guy who cuts a memorable silhouette along Bedford Avenue, standing with an intimidating posture, lips that look permanently puckered, and chestnut hair that's marvelously teased into a rock-star bramble. Michelle is diminutive and blond with fair skin, a huge and toothy smile, and cornsilk-blue eyes. The 2005 School of Visual Arts grad is also a talented artist with a finely honed sense of gallows humor, and she's been known to exhibit a trio of severed-head paper sculptures. As her boss, the painter Marilyn Minter, puts it, "She looks like Alice in Wonderland, but she's a very dark little girl."

That night in October 2010, the Bushwick couple decided to meet a friend at the Williamsburg DIY venue where trash-punk art-stomp fivesome Golden Triangle were still scheduled to play one of the space's many performance compartments, a gallery area called Live With Animals. Michelle remembers tossing her purse in her bike's basket. Hopping on their bicycles, the New Jersey native remembers shouting with James to determine what route they would take. She picked Kent Avenue because she trusted the road's wide bike lane. Then, BOOM, she's in an ambulance and everything's out-of-focus.

"All the sudden, there was this horrible pain—I didn't even know what was going on—this horrible pain, happening all over. I was screaming over and over, like, 'Call my mom!' I was reciting my parents' phone number—it was one of the only phone numbers I had memorized in my head. So I was just screaming that number over and over again. One of the ambulance guys was like, 'I think something might be wrong with her.' " Her outfit, a new dress she'd only worn twice, would be cut off and later handed to her mother in a bag. The package smelled bad.

Paz and Matson soon became frustrated with the NYPD’s 94th Precinct.
Rachel Steinhauser
Paz and Matson soon became frustrated with the NYPD’s 94th Precinct.

In retrospect, she knows they did MRIs and CAT scans and made her drink some weird dye to make sure her internal organs were functioning. (They were.) But after a morphine-hazy week, things at the beginning are blurry. After her leg operation, she underwent therapy to learn how to get off the toilet and to bathe. For two and a half weeks, nurses came and wiped her off. She wouldn't learn to walk again until March.

Hospital snapshots provide a grim time capsule of the aftermath. In one image, James holds up his shirt to reveal a cloud-shaped bruise spread across his torso's left side that's a deeper purple than McDonaldland's Grimace. A profile shot of James's facial cuts and scrapes—marks that seem applied with watercolors—illustrates his stitched jawline, a gash as unruly as Frankenstein's forehead wound.

Michelle, meanwhile, looks like a prisoner of her own skin. Staples unite her scalp. Her forehead, normally a sprinkle of freckles, is swollen into a leaky jellyfish-like lump. Chin encased in a neck brace, she has violet raccoon eyes. Skin layers have been torn away into wince-inducing blotches on her heel, her hip, her knee, and she displays them, one by one.

"She was a mess," admits Minter, who visited Michelle in the hospital frequently, sent her balloons and delivered Dean & DeLuca sweets. "She lost all this weight. Her hair was falling out. She was a skeleton of what I knew."

"There were moments when she was saying that she loves me, but she doesn't think she's going to make it," James recalls solemnly. To cheer her up, he made her a sign that read "I [HEART] YOU AND THINK U ARE PRETTY." "It almost seemed like it. I've never seen anyone in that much pain personally. It seemed like something from the movies, like when you watch war movies," he pauses. "That was rough. That was very rough."

When Michelle finally left the hospital, after three weeks and change, James and his friends would realize that the cops weren't doing very much to help the case. So he and his friends resorted to their own grassroots-campaigning efforts, plastering Brooklyn lamp poles and local businesses and Facebook profiles with flyers of Michelle's unrecognizably puffy face—bandaged and bloody and bruised, stuffed into a Stormtrooper-like neck brace—begging for eyewitnesses. Conte was one of the four people who got in touch. He didn't get the license-plate number or see the driver, but remembers a girl that night who saw the car. "I think she even saw the person inside really quickly. I guess the police talked to her?"

That Saturday, he also recalls someone beside James wondering if they should get Michelle's mangled bike. "I said, 'No, leave it there,' thinking they'll maybe do an investigation or something." He pauses. "I guess that's a joke."

The NYPD complaint report identifies a 1990 Nissan Maxima as the vehicular culprit. The document also confirms the car was later found nearby the scene, on Banker Street between Norman and Wythe avenues. Turns out that automobile was registered to a Greenpoint address on the corner of Dupont Street and Manhattan Avenue, about a 15-minute walk away from the hit-and-run intersection: a big white-brick apartment building where the foyer-door lock is always broken and a first-floor air conditioner is secured in place with a plastic Folgers tub.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
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?

 
New York Concert Tickets
Loading...