Politicians ask NYPD for more crossing guards in Hasidic Williamsburg after 10-year-old girl’s death

“Every child in our city needs a safe route home from school,” wrote Councilmember Lincoln Restler and other Brooklyn politicians.

Credit: iStockPhoto/Elisank79

Apr 26, 2024 11:35 AM


Brooklyn politicians are asking the New York City Police Department to place more crossing guards outside of Hasidic schools in South Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant after 10-year-old Yitty Wertzberger was killed by a car earlier this month.

“Today, I sat shiva with the family of a 10 year old girl who was killed while crossing in the crosswalk with the right of way,” wrote Councilmember Lincoln Restler, who spearheaded the letter, on X, formerly Twitter. “We are requesting more crossing guards in South Williamsburg & Bed-Stuy to help prevent a tragedy like from happening again.”

Wertzberger was crossing the intersection of Wallabout Street and Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg around 2:40 p.m. on April 16, close to her house and school, when she was struck by driver Isaac Karczag, 62, who was allegedly making an illegal left turn on a red light, according to police.

“The presence of a crossing guard at this dangerous intersection could have provided assistance to Yitty to safely cross the street and a visual warning to the driver to prevent this fatal collision,” the politicians wrote to police two days after the incident. According to their letter, there are 54 yeshivas in the area, heightening the need for safety measures.

“Every child in our city needs a safe route home from school – and we know that the presence of a crossing guard is one of the most effective ways to reduce child pedestrian injuries and deaths without costly and drawn-out changes to street design,” they wrote.

In addition to Restler, the letter was signed by Councilmembers Jennifer Gutiérrez and Chi Ossé, Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso, Assemblymember Phara Souffrant Forrest and Emily Gallagher, state senator Julia Salazar and Congressmember Nydia Velazquez. Their request comes after the city cut nearly 500 crossing guard positions from the NYPD last year in order to reduce costs.

Molly Haley, Restler’s chief of staff, told Shtetl that the NYPD has not yet formally responded to the letter. Restler’s staff did not answer questions from Shtetl asking if crossing guards have ever been stationed at private schools in New York City, and if the councilmember means to hire new crossing guards or re-station existing ones away from their current posts. Staff from Ossé’s, Reynoso’s, and Salazar’s offices did not immediately answer these questions either.

Hundreds of mourners attended Wertzberger’s funeral outside Congregation Toras Chaim Viznitz at 6 Lee Avenue on April 17, the New York Daily News and New York Post reported.

Police said that Karczag remained on the scene and they arrested him and charged him with failure to yield to a pedestrian, disobeying a traffic device and failure to exercise due care.