Right Turn Signal Installed in the Intersection that Took Crossing Guard Krystyna Naprawa’s Life

By Celia Bernhardt | [email protected]

Months after the tragic death of Krystyna Naprawa, a crossing guard who was killed by a sanitation truck on Woodhaven Boulevard, a change has come to the intersection where she lost her life. 

The city’s Department of Transportation has installed a right turn signal in the lane where the truck that struck Naprawa was turning from. Sam Esposito, head of the Ozone Park Residents Block Association, says he began urging DOT to make the change the morning Naprawa was killed. 

“As soon as she died, I went to the scene and I looked at it, and the first thing I saw was that this needed to have a right turn signal,” Esposito said. 

Naprawa died on Oct. 20, 2023, working her usual morning shift at the intersection of Woodhaven Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue. A vigil was held by the intersection days later, where family, friends, and community leaders gathered to mourn the sudden loss.

“We reached out to our DOT Commissioner. We said, ‘Look, this needs to be looked at ASAP. We don’t want an 18-month study. We want this fast-tracked because we believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg for somebody else that could die,’” Esposito continued. “For once, DOT actually agreed and fast-tracked it. This is the fastest DOT has ever responded to anything we’ve ever asked.”

The new turn signal. Courtesy of Sam Esposito

The turn signal will only flash amber, not green, signaling to cars and trucks to look carefully and move slowly. When other lanes have a green light, the right turn signal will remain red for an initial period before turning amber. Esposito says this delay will give crossing guards more time to get kids safely out of the street if they haven’t yet finished crossing, and get themselves to safety, before cars turn the corner. 

“I don’t want to place the blame on anybody, but I think someone dropped the ball when they installed the three lanes—one going right, one going straight, one going left—and they didn’t take into consideration that that’s a truck route,” Esposito said. “There should have been a right turn signal there all along.”

In a Facebook post, Esposito credited Community Board 9 District Manager James McClelland, DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez, and the block association’s advisor Darma Diaz as particularly helpful in pushing for the turn signal. 

“NYC DOT is committed to improving safety along Atlantic Avenue—both in Brooklyn and Queens,” a DOT spokesperson said in a statement to the Queens Ledger. “We will continue to explore future safety upgrades across the corridor.”

Esposito said the block association also requested the Southwest corner of the intersection to be renamed after Naprawa, but that he expected that process to take longer. 

Krystyna Naprawa.

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