Callous city officials failed to protect people along a West Side Highway bike path that turned into a trail of bloody destruction last Halloween after an accused terrorist rammed people along the route with a renting truck, according to a series of lawsuits filed on behalf of victims.
The city’s Department of Transportation and Parks Dept. and the Hudson River Park Trust never installed protective barriers along the bike path where the pro-ISIS terrorist Sayfullo Saipov allegedly killed eight people and injured 13 more with a rental pick-up truck last Halloween, say the lawsuits filed in Manhattan Supreme Court on Tuesday.
“They were on notice since at least 2007 of the numerous vehicles that were entering the greenway,” said lawyer Anthony Gair. “Nothing was done.”
The lawsuit references the 2006 deaths of cyclists Eric Ng and Carl Nacht, who were mowed down in crashes along the bike path.
Ng, 22, was biking to meet friends when he was fatally hit by a drunk driver, Eugenio Cidron, 27, who was leaving an office party on Dec. 1, 2006. Cidron, whose blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit, pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to 3 1/2 to 10 1/2 years in prison.
Hect, 56, was killed by a police tow truck while he biked down the same path.
Their deaths triggered a 2007 study by bike advocacy group Transportation Alternatives called “Rethinking Bollards.” That report called for a series of changes along the bike pathway, including installation of barriers along pedestrian and bicycle trails.
But the city ignored those recommendations until the Saipov attack.
“The city had a duty to protect this path,” Gair said.
A city Law Department spokesman said the pathway is run by the Hudson River Park Trust that has complete liability under an agreement with the city.
“The city regrets the loss of life and injuries from the October 31, 2017 terror attack,” said Law Department spokesman Nicholas Paolucci. “The Hudson River Park Trust designed and is responsible for maintaining the Hudson River Greenway and its bicycle path.”
A spokesman with Hudson River Park Trust countered Wednesday that “the park has a maintenance contract with state DOT that includes cleaning and snow removal of the bikeway. The park is not responsible for safety and security of the bikeway and cannot make structural changes to it in any way.”
The lawsuits don’t list a specific monetary amount each victim is seeking. But an earlier notice of claim filed shortly after the terror attack said the victims should be entitled to more than $600 million.
Saipov, of New Jersey, used the rental pickup to carve a 14-block path of destruction down the popular bike route on Halloween of last year. A police officer shot him in the abdomen, ending the attack. Cops found a note near the truck with the phrases “No God but God and Muhammad is his Prophet” and “Islamic Supplication. It will endure” written in Arabic, prosecutors said.
His trial is set in Manhattan Federal Court on Oct. 7, 2019.