Erica Abbott Cycling Death Was 'Totally Preventable': Hurricane Irene, New Construction to Blame

 @EllenKilloran
on September 01 2011 3:58 PM

A 29-year old Brooklyn woman who was killed in cycling accident on Tuesday was trying to swerve out of the way of construction debris when she toppled into traffic and was run over by a Mercedes.

Erica Abbott, originally from Ontario, N.Y., was only a few blocks from her home in Williamsburg when she was fatally struck on Bushwick Ave. at around 7 p.m. Tuesday.

A makeshift fence built along a construction site for a new residential building on Bushwick Ave. had been blown into the street by Hurricane Irene over the weekend, creating an obstacle for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.

She had nowhere to go, Abbott's aunt, Patty Affronti, 51, told the Daily News. The tire hit her neck and severed her jugular. My niece bled to death in the street.

A Brooklyn resident who lives near the scene of the accident contacted Gothamist to explain the condition of the street after the hurricane:

There were 2 wooden barricade type structures to block off an area. They were both in the street next to the sidewalk, but one blew over with the storm over the weekend and was in the way of any biker or car for that matter. I have no idea why it wasn't picked up Monday or Tuesday. I can see how you wouldn't even see it if on a bike. It would put you into harms way if you were trying to swerve around it.

There has been no comment yet from the construction company, YBG Construction, as to why the debris was not removed from the street. As of Thursday morning, it was still there, according to a resident who commented on a Gothamist story about the accident:

Two of my neighbors and I moved the debris this morning. I was actually walking to the train with the intention of doing so myself, and they were already there, so we all kind of got together and dragged it to the sidewalk. We were all disgusted that they didn't do it already. I left the construction company a NASTY voicemail about removing it all together - their negligence caused a young woman to die, and yet they left all the crap out there??

Abbott had moved to New York City seven years ago to pursue a career in modern dance, and was a devout Buddhist and yoga practitioner. A memorial service was held for her on Wednesday evening at Three Jewels Tibetan Buddhist yoga center.

Abbot's aunt blames the construction company's neglect for her niece's death.

This was totally preventable, Affronti told the Daily News. She would be here today if that construction site had secured their fencing. It fell over during the hurricane and no one picked it up.

Abbot's is the third cycling death in New York City during the month of August. On Aug. 2, a man was killed by a truck at a Williamsburg intersection less than a mile away from the scene of Abbott's accident, and on Aug. 19 a man was struck and killed by a cement truck while cycling in downtown Manhattan.

Bike lanes -- or the lack of -- have long been a polarizing issue in many Brooklyn neighborhoods, and are a frequent source of arguments at City Council meetings.

The Mercedes that killed Abbott was driven by an unidentified 34-year old woman who remained at the scene of the accident and has not been charged with any wrongdoing.

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