MIDWOOD, Brooklyn (PIX11) — An investigation is still underway after a school bus ran over a 15-year-old girl and kept going in Brooklyn on Monday.
Family members and friends of Antonina Zatulovska are mourning her tragic loss. Meanwhile, a veteran police investigator says that getting to the bottom of what happened, and determining whether or not the fatal encounter constitutes a serious crime, is a potentially long process.
It happened around 7:55 a.m. on Monday. Zatulovska was in a crosswalk on Bedford Avenue, at Avenue P, when a school bus turned the corner and struck her.
The alleged driver, Aleksandr Patlakh, 55, faces charges of failure to yield to a pedestrian and failure to use due care. Both charges resulted in a desk appearance ticket, a designation of a minor crime.
At the apartment building in Coney Island where Zatulovska lives, people close to her said that they want to see more serious charges leveled against Patlakh. A member of the victim’s family chose not to speak publicly about her death.
As for what happens next, Ralph Cilento, a retired lieutenant commander of detectives with the NYPD and adjunct professor law and police science at John Jay College, said that while what happened is a great tragedy, he understands that cases like this take time.
“Take a deep breath and calm down, as hard as that may be, and let the investigation take its course,” he encouraged.
He said that more serious charges in this case, such as knowingly leaving the scene of an accident without reporting it, require a thorough, meticulous investigation, which is what is happening now. Cilento has supervised investigators like the ones at the scene on Monday.
“Recovering every piece of video evidence you can get,” Cilento said, listing some of the many actions investigators in the case are now taking, “interviewing witnesses, anybody who might have seen anything, [seeking] recorded Uber cameras, we ask people to come forward, if they know anything.”
Cilento also said that analysis of the driver’s electronics has to be undertaken. He said that it’s possible that the driver simply didn’t realize he’d run over the girl.
“Did he text anybody, and say, ‘I just hit this girl and I need to get out of here?’ Did he not know anything at all? Did he go home and go about his business? So all of those things need to be analyzed,” Cilento said.
The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office said that it’s still investigating.
Whether it was an accident or not, Transportation Alternatives, a transit advocacy group, said that the fatal collision shows a need for changes to traffic policy. Executive Director Danny Harris said there’s been 10 traffic fatalities so far in January.
“Mayor Adams has already made a commitment to ’25 by 25,’ which would be a transformational plan to give 25 percent of our street space back to New Yorkers by 2025,” Harris continued. “Doing so would address the injustice and imbalance on our streets.”
“For New York City to move forward,” he said, “we have to ensure that our streets are built for people.”