When Aileen McKay-Dalton, 40, was killed after her scooter collided with an SUV on the evening of July 8, her family, friends, and the Fort Greene community were heartbroken.
At a candlelight vigil last Thursday, grief turned to outrage when it was revealed that, contrary to the accident report and what was reported in the news, there were witnesses present at the time of the accident.
Tara Simoncic was driving north on Clinton Avenue directly behind the SUV. It happened so quick that she doesn’t recall who ran the light, but other witnesses told her that McKay-Dalton, who was riding west on DeKalb Avenue, had the green light. Simoncic said that McKay-Dalton was wearing a helmet and she does not recall seeing an iPod or headphones at the scene.
“When I read in the initial stories that there were no witnesses, I wanted to set the record straight,” she said.
Simoncic said that she and other witnesses stayed to give their accounts, but police were dismissive, telling them they could leave if they wished. It was at least 20 minutes before a police officer finally took down their information.
Simoncic also recalls that instead of taking photographs and measurements of the crash, police pushed the SUV from the intersection through the light.
“Don’t assume police are going to take the necessary information and pictures and that they’re on the side of the people,” she said. “That’s a mistake nobody in New York City should make.”
A police source confirmed that the driver of the 2005 Ford Explorer - Joel Murphy of Baker, Louisiana, according to the accident report - is a U.S. Department of Treasury agent. He tested negative for drugs and alcohol. Police refused to comment on the handling of the witnesses.
Councilwoman Letitia James has submitted letters to the mayor and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and started an online petition calling for a more thorough investigation of what really happened.
At the conclusion of the candlelight vigil, James received a call from the office of District Attorney Charles Hynes, who agreed to launch his own investigation.
“I applaud D.A. Hynes for leading the way,” said James. She added, “If we could improve the flow of traffic in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, that would be Aileen’s legacy, that nobody will suffer the same fate.”
Friends of McKay-Dalton described her as a witty, generous woman and above all, a great mother. She was a stay-at-home mom of three kids ages 3, 6, and 8. She will be buried in her native Scotland.
Close friend Kelly Fitzgerald pointed out the hardest part is all the speculation and not knowing the real facts.
“We need to know what happened to our friend,” she said. “One day her kids are going to want to know what happened, so we should know the truth.”
“Those little babies are left without a mama,” said another tearful friend, Denise Forgione. “I called her Angelic Aileen - there will never be another like her.”