Driver In Park Slope Crash Indicted For Manslaughter, DA Says

PARK SLOPE, NY — The driver who slammed into five pedestrians crossing a Park Slope intersection, killing two children and injuring their mothers, was arrested for the crash nearly two months later, authorities said.

Dorothy Bruns, 44, of Grasmere in Staten Island, was indicted on manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, reckless endangerment and assault charges on Thursday for the crash that killed Abigail Blumenstein, 4, and Joshua Lew, 1, District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced.

Bruns was repeatedly told by doctors to stay off the road after she had a medical episode in January while driving in Staten Island, but she kept driving, prosecutors said.

“The loss of Abigail and Joshua was a horrific — and avoidable — tragedy that devastated their loved ones and hurt so many of their friends and neighbors,” Gonzalez said in a statement.

“Her alleged insistence on driving despite doctor’s orders and serious medical conditions that prevented her from safely doing so was not only irresponsible, it was unlawful. I intend to now hold her accountable and urge all drivers to heed instructions of medical professionals and never drive a car when told not to.”

Bruns faces up to 15 years behind bars if convicted of the top charge and was held on $75,000 cash, $25,000 bond at her arraignment, prosecutors said.

“As a citizen, as a father, I think it was the right thing to do,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at an unrelated press conference about the arrest. “It’s not going to bring those kids back, but at least it shows some accountability.”

On Mach 5, Bruns was stopped at the intersection of Ninth Street and Fifth Avenue when she lost control of her 2016 Volvo S60 and crashed into the pedestrians crossing, police said. She kept driving for more than 300-feet, dragging a stroller, until she hit a parked car.

The crash killed Joshua Lew, 1, and Abigail Blumenstein, 4, and left their mothers Ruthie Ann Blumenstein and Lauren Lew in the hospital. A man was also left with minor injuries, police said.

Blumenstein, a Tony-award winning actress whose stage name is Ruthie Ann Miles, was pregnant at the time but her unborn child was unharmed in the crash, her family previously said.

Bruns had a history of seizures and a law enforcement source said she likely had one before the crash. A witness reported seeing her head hanging back as she drove through the intersection, prosecutors said.

She was foaming from the mouth when emergency workers arrived and she had two more seizures after the crash, authorities said.

On Jan. 8, Bruns had a medical episode while driving her car on Staten Island and was hospitalized for two days, prosecutors said. She also suffered a seizure during that hospital stay.

Doctors told Bruns to stay off the road for one year after her hospitalization — once when she was discharged and twice during follow up appointments — but she did not heed their warnings, prosecutors said. Her car was involved in a fender-bender on Jan. 20 in Staten Island and left the scene, authorities said.

Bruns’ Volvo had 12 violations issued to it in the past two years, including four for running red-light and four for speeding in school zones, police said.

Since they were issued to the license plate by speed cameras, it was impossible to tell who was behind the wheel at the time, officials said.

The crash sparked protests around Park Slope with residents calling for safer streets and led to Mayor Bill de Blasio announcing a push for new laws to crack down on reckless drivers.

(Nicholas Rizzi/Patch)

“These are the kinds of measures that could’ve averted the tragedy that happened in our community,” de Blasio said.

“We can’t accept a reality where it is normal for someone to kill a pedestrian with their vehicle. We just can’t let that be anything we regard as normal in our community.”

The laws would require physicians to notify the DMV if a driver had a medical condition that could cause them to lose control of their vehicle, giving the state agency the power to strip their license. Another would increase the price of fines given to repeat traffic camera violators, eventually suspended their registration if they get six or more within two years.

Photos courtesy Leah Finnegan/Twitter and GoFundMe is a Patch promotional partner.

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