In 2004, then 12-year-old Brooklynite Anthony Turturro was cycling on Gerritsen Avenue—a strip that locals had long complained was unsafe because it facilitated speeding—when he was hit by a driver with a suspended license going 54mph in the 30mph zone. Turturro survived the accident, but suffered permanent brain damage, and now a jury has found that of the $36 million awarded to the 19-year-old in May, the city should pay 40 percent of $19 million, the largest such payment in city history.
Turturro was in seventh grade at the time of the accident, the Post reports, and had just left a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony when he was hit midblock on Gerritsen Avenue. He spent the next two years in rehab at St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children in Bayside, Queens, and now attends Adelphi Academy, a private school for disabled students. As his mother puts it, “His teenage years were wiped out.”
The city ignored a plea from the local community two years prior to the accident to add a traffic light on the stretch. After the accident the Department of Transportation did a five-year study of Gerritsen Avenue and reduced it from two to one lane in both directions.
Finally, in May of this year, a Brooklyn jury found that Turturro was owed $36 million, 40 percent of which it deemed to be the city’s responsibility, 50 percent the driver’s and, incomprehensibly, “They found the teen 10 percent responsible for his own injuries.” The city has filed a motion to have the verdict overturned, claiming that a study of traffic on Gerritsen Avenue or any traffic-calming changes to its streetscape would have had no effect on this accident.