Diocesan News

Crossing Guard Hit by Car at ‘Dangerous Corner’ Near Queens Catholic School

The New York Police Department puts up do not enter wood horse blockers for cars and pedestrians after a traffic accident. (Photo: Getty Images)

MIDDLE VILLAGE — A school crossing guard stationed near Our Lady of Hope Catholic Academy was struck by a car and seriously injured Tuesday, Sept. 26, at an intersection close to the school that parents charge is a dangerous crossing for their children.

The crossing guard, Lily D’Onofrio, 63, was on duty at her corner, Eliot Avenue and 71st Street, helping children cross the street at school dismissal time, approximately 2:56 p.m., when she was struck by a Mercedes driven by Sinead Welsh, 51, police said.

D’Onofrio suffered head trauma and was transported by EMS to NYC Health and Hospitals/Elmhurst, where she was listed in critical but stable condition.

Welsh, who remained at the scene, was arrested and charged with reckless endangerment and DWI. Police said she refused to take a breath test.

The incident left parents and children shaken and saddened, but not surprised. “Something like this was bound to happen. It’s a very dangerous corner,” said Norma Apolo, the parent of a student. 

Apolo witnessed a recent incident in which a speeding driver nearly plowed into a woman crossing the street with a small child. “Thank God, they got out of the way before they got hit,” she recalled.

According to parents, the two main issues contributing to the danger at the corner are drivers who speed to beat the traffic light, and motorists who double park, reducing the line of sight for other drivers navigating the intersection.

Aimee Stephan, who has two children at Our Lady of Hope, said drivers are in such a hurry as they drive through the intersection that they don’t stop for the red light and don’t heed the crossing guard’s whistle.

The situation is particularly fraught at school dismissal time, Stephan said. “It’s chaos,” she added. The large volume of children coming out of school, coupled with the large number of parents double parking to pick up their kids, as well as the speeding drivers, makes for a bad mix, she said.

Parents have ideas on ways the city could mitigate the danger.

“I think we need a speed camera there,” Apolo said. She also called for the NYPD to step up traffic enforcement at the site. “The cops should be there writing tickets,” she added.

Stephan suggested closing off a block of Eliot Avenue at dismissal time to ensure a safe passage for children crossing the street. “Also, we don’t have ‘School Zone’ signs on the street outside our school. The public schools have them. We should, too,” she said.

D’Onofrio, who has been a school crossing guard for several years, is a beloved figure at Our Lady of Hope Catholic Academy. Known for her warm, outgoing personality, she can often be seen with a big smile on her face and offering a hug to a child, parents said.

One thought on “Crossing Guard Hit by Car at ‘Dangerous Corner’ Near Queens Catholic School

  1. Multiple parents quoted in this story mentioned DOUBLE-PARKING as being problematic. And indeed, it IS problematic. More people (and DRIVERS) need to recognize this behavior for the very grave danger that it is. Far too many drivers consider double-parking, or idling in the bike lane, bus lane, bus stop etc as ‘No Big Deal’…that ‘everybody does it’. But the problem is that all these behaviors create DEADLY DOMINO EFFECTS.

    Scofflaw parking and idling creates congestion. Then other drivers get impatient and need to swerve around them. So then drivers get angry because of congestion and then speed up and run the red. Cyclists must swerve around drivers who are ILLEGALLY idling in the bike lane. MTA bus passengers must board/disembark buses from a LANE OF TRAFFIC, all because some selfish driver is idling in the bus stop while stuffing their face with some Taco Bell. Cars double-parked by intersections block the lines of sight for EVERYBODY, creating countless dangers.

    Where is the outrage over the fact that NYPD do NOTHING about any of this? They just look the other way. We see this time and time again, with our own eyes…NYPD just sailing right on by cars that are BLATANTLY breaking the law. Heck, NYPD are themselves some of the biggest scofflaws, parking wherever they please.

    WHERE IS THE OUTRAGE? NYC pedestrians, cyclists and even CROSSING GUARDS are being slaughtered left and right. Our streets are total CHAOS. Whenever I have friends from Europe come visit me in NYC, they all remark about all the cars. They cannot believe or understand why so many people are in these MASSIVE RIDICULOUS OVERSIZED MILITARY-STYLE vehicles, driving EVERYWHERE, and then beeping…angry over ‘all the traffic’ which they themselves created. 80% of ALL THE VEHICLES on our streets contain just ONE PASSENGER. It is BEYOND PERVERTED. WHY have we normalize this? WHY do we allow this?? We simply cannot sustain so many PRIVATE-USE vehicles.

    ‘Car culture’…. ADDICTION to driving …it is a very real thing. All these helicopter/lawnmower parents who are picking up their kids from school…who are double-parking and endangering all the rest of us… I can GUARANTEE that a good many of those kids (especially the older kids) could have EASILY WALKED, or taken the BUS or SUBWAY to get home. But NOOOOO…..these parents coddle their spoiled children and so will drive their 2-3 ton killing machine, all because their kid is ‘too special’ to walk, or take the bus or subway like all the other kids.

    We need to STOP NORMALIZING this. NYC is a densely-populated city…. this is not some small town where travel by car is the ONLY way to get around. ENOUGH with all the stupid cars.