Back in 2009, an unoccupied delivery van left idling on East Broadway in Chinatown jumped a curb and killed two preschoolers as their class was coming back from a field trip. 17 people were injured in the incident, which was deemed an accident. The driver was not charged or even issued a ticket, sparking enormous outrage and rallies demanding a new law that would criminalize such carelessness. On Thursday, that law goes into effect.
Called Hayley and Diego's Law, it's named after 4-year-old Hayley Ng and her 3-year-old classmate Diego Martinez. Sponsored by Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh and Senator Daniel Squadron, the law closes a loophole in that allows a driver who has caused injury or death to avoid punishment. Under the amendment, "drivers who act in a manner that endangers or would be likely to endanger a pedestrian or cyclist thereby causing physical injury or death shall be guilty of a traffic infraction. Punishment could include a fine, a term of imprisonment of up to 15 days and/or the participation in a motor vehicle accident prevention course."
It won't bring the victims back, and 15 days in jail still seems too light, but perhaps it's better than nothing. "Wake up, New York, it's time to be careful about how you drive," Hayley's aunt Wendy Cheung tells the Daily News. "My sister is heartbroken. It's as painful as the day it happened. Hayley was her only child."