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Driver Hits Cyclist in Bensonhurst

March 21, 2012

Photo: DNAinfo

This is just horrifying.  A driver fleeing the scene of a bus crash tore down 18th Avenue in Bensonhurst and hit a cyclist earlier today, stopping only when he crashed into a Range Rover.  No word on whether anyone was in the Range Rover when it was hit.

A 63-YEAR-OLD bicyclist was clinging to life Wednesday after an 80-year-old driver slammed into him on a Brooklyn street, officials said.

The victim was riding his bike around 4:25 p.m. on 73rd St. near 18th Ave. in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, when a driver in a black Mercedes-Benz who was fleeing from another accident plowed into him,, cops said.

The octogenarian behind the wheel – identified by witnesses as Tommy Saladino – had crashed into a school bus minutes earlier and kept going, according to police.

After hitting the cyclist, Saladino rammed into a Range Rover before finally coming to a stop, officials said.

Three media outlets picked up this story tonight.  Note the difference in the headlines:

  • Post: “Elderly Driver Hits Elderly Cyclist in Brooklyn”
  • Daily News: “Cyclist critical in Brooklyn Crash – 63-year-old man struck by 80-year-old motorist in Bensonhurst”
  • DNAinfo: “Bicyclist Critically Injured by Mercedes in Bensonhurst”

The News does a good job of reporting the story with humanizing touches, naming the driver of the Mercedes and mentioning the age of the cyclist.  Even the Post, in its trademark brevity, manages to mention that an actual driver was behind the wheel of the Mercedes.

The DNAinfo story, however, is a classic example of what Steven Vance calls the “Robocar” style of reporting.  The headline says the cyclist was hit by a “Mercedes,” not a a driver or motorist.  No mention of a driver is made until the very end of the piece, and then only to mention that he was taken to a nearby hospital.  Even worse than that is this description of the series of events following the first collision:

The bus, which did not have any children on board, chased the Mercedes, which swerved into another lane and slammed into the cyclist, who was delivering food for a restaurant, Luca said.

“The bus…chased the Mercedes.”  The only humans mentioned here are non-existent children and the seriously injured cyclist.

All three reports mention that the driver is expected to be charged.

  1. summer permalink
    March 22, 2012 10:08 am

    The “Robocar” reporting is pervasive and frustrating. The media constantly removes human agency from these types of stories when drivers cause such crashes but you’ll almost never hear that treatment given to a bicyclist. (“…a bike ran a red”? no.). This linguistic sloppiness contributes to the perception that the consequences of careless driving are out of our control. (In fact, how often do we hear simply that a car “lost control” before jumping a curb and injuring pedestrians?) Horrifying indeed.

    • summerbreeze permalink
      March 22, 2012 8:45 pm

      You will always hear half of the story, and most of it false….unfortunately

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