On September 24, 2005, 14-year-old Andre Anderson was killed on Shore Front
Parkway at Beach 77th Street in Far Rockaway, Queens, by Jose Vicens, 23, who was driving his Lincoln Navigator. Andre was struck from behind and killed while riding his bike on a neighborhood street near his home.
A year later, despite evidence of officers failing to follow proper accident investigation procedure and of reckless driving by Vicens, Jose Vicens has not received so much as a ticket, further witnesses to Andre’s death have not been questioned, and the Queens District Attorney is not pursuing the case. Andre’s family continues to demand a complete investigation of Andre’s death and safer street design of Shore Front Parkway and are petitioning to name the local skate park after him.
CONTENTIOUS POINTS IN ANDRE
STRONG EVIDENCE SUGGESTS THAT VICENS WAS DRIVING RECKLESSLY, BUT RECEIVED NO SUMMONS OR TICKET
- The police report shows Vicens was driving above the 30 MPH speed limit. Damage to Andre’s bike, and the distance he was thrown from it, indicate high speed at impact.
- Vicens admits in the report to seeing Andre in front of him. Weather and road conditions were clear, the street is wide and two-laned, and Vicens’ friend and the only other witness in the report, Austin Weber, states that there was no other traffic on the road aside from his car and Vicens’ SUV. Yet Vicens was unable to avoid hitting Andre, despite attempting two evasive maneuvers.
- The police report shows that there were no skid marks to indicate Vicens tried to brake or slow down, and Vicens did not honk a horn or make any attempt to warn Andre he was approaching.
- Vicens states that he attempted to pass Andre on the right before swerving left to avoid him as he moved. Passing on the right is illegal.
- Vicens statement shows that he violated laws regarding speeding, overtaking a vehicle, following too closely, and exercising due care. No tickets were issued.
THE IMMEDIATE INVESTIGATION IS NOT THOROUGH, AND DEMONSTRATES A DEPARTURE FROM ORDINARY ACCIDENT REPORTING PROCEDURE THAT FAVORS VICENS
- Before statements were taken for the report, Vicens was able to compare stories with his friend and the only other driver on the road, Austin Weber.
- Witnesses were not interviewed by police, and the only accounts are written statements by Vicens and Weber in the report. Another witness, Willie Tipton, is mentioned in the report, but his or her account is not included. A further witness has approached Andre’s family to share her story of the incident. Her account was not recorded by police. She blames Vicens for the collision and asserts that he was driving recklessly.
- No records are extant that a Breathalyzer test was administered to either driver.
- No sketches, photographs, or physical documentation of the accident scene were made by police, aside from a simple street diagram showing where pieces of Andre’s bike lay.
- The first responding officer’s report is missing from the 100th Precinct station. Existing reports were compiled by Officer Yula of Highway Patrol Unit 3. The Highway Patrol arrived at the scene after considerable time had passed and Andre’s body had already been removed.
ACTIONS BY THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE FAIL TO CONSTITUTE A PROPER INVESTIGATION AND OTHER CITY AGENCIES HAVE YET TO CORRECT THE SITUATION.
- On October 25, 2005, police informed Andre’s family that the case was being investigated and upon completion would be forwarded to the DA’s office for further ruling. According to Andre’s family, they were told by police on December 3, 2005 that on the night of the incident, September 24, 2005, the DA’s office was informed of the accident and decided there was no criminality involved, despite the fact that the investigation was still ongoing. The case is now closed with no charges issued against Vicens.
- No attempt was made to contact the witness whose statement was not taken.
- Though public officials are aware of the Anderson family’s dissatisfaction with the way the case was handled, they have not taken any action to help them.
- The Queens Borough DOT Commissioner threatened in a phone call to Andre’s mother on July 6, 2006 that the 100th Precinct would remove Andre’s Ghost Bike memorial. Fortunately, the memorial has not been removed at this point.
- No safety measures, including traffic lights, stop signs, or speed bumps, have been installed on Shore Front Parkway.
SHORE FRONT PARKWAY IS NOT SAFELY DESIGNED FOR NON-MOTORIZED VEHICLES AND PEDESTRIANS.
- The local community has campaigned unsuccessfully for the installation of traffic lights, stop signs, speed bumps, and other traffic calming measures on the street.
- A man was killed in a drag racing incident on the street prior to Andre’s death.
- A DOT survey of the area in 2004 “concluded traffic signals were unwarranted according to Federal guidelines” (The Wave Newspaper, 9.30.05).
INVESTIGATION INTO JOSE VICEN’S PERSONAL LIFE GIVES FURTHER CLARITY TO THE SITUATION.
- Vicens’ MySpace web page shows that he is friends with several police officers and that he has a colorful social life that centers around heavy drinking.
- Vicens has made comments on this page that show lack of remorse about the incident and disrespect for the victim. He has listed one of his hobbies as “sending bikers flying into the air” and has said “sucks about the paper [The Wave article] and shit, but ya know none of that shit won’t matter in 5 years.”
Police Accident Report [274kb PDF]
Motor Vehicle Accident & Mechanism Report [699kb PDF]
Right Of Way: Driving As Usual: Familiar Patterns In Andre Anderson’s Death
Letter From Andre’s Mother, Audrey Anderson [23kb PDF]
NYPD THREATENS TO REMOVE ANDRE ANDERSON GHOST BIKE MEMORIAL
Andre’s memorial on Shore Front Parkway, where he was struck by the speeding SUV, is scheduled to be removed by the NYPD’s 100th Precinct, according to Queens Borough DOT Commissioner Maura McCarthy. Officials have not given clear reasons as to why they plan to remove the memorial.
Gideon Oliver’s letter [130kb PDF] to Maura McCarthy, Queens Bureau Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation, regarding the removal of the Memorial recognizing Andre Anderson’s Death. Gideon Oliver is the attorney representing Audrey Anderson in this matter.
TIME’S UP! MEMORIAL RIDE FOR ANDRE ANDERSON
On May 14, 2006, Time’s Up! and 100 cyclists converged on the Rockaway Skate Park to memorialize Andre, to draw attention to his family’s fight for justice, and to raise awareness about the need for improved conditions for all cyclists.