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Teen killed at Rockaway bus stop as sleeping driver jumps curb

Jun. 25, 2023 By Ben Brachfeld

A 19-year-old woman was killed in Rockaway Saturday while waiting for a bus after being struck by a sleeping driver.

Officers discovered 19-year-old Ava Conklin, of Hell’s Kitchen, lying on the sidewalk at Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach 108th Street with severe bodily trauma just after 2:15 p.m. on Saturday, June 24. She was taken by EMTs to Brookdale Hospital in Brownsville, where she was pronounced dead.

Police say an unidentified 29-year-old man fell asleep behind the wheel of a Hyundai SUV he was driving westbound on Rockaway Beach Boulevard. The snoozing motorist hopped the curb and plowed into Conklin as she stood at the bus stop, which serves the Q22 and Q53 routes, as well as three metal benches.

The driver was taken into custody for questioning but had not been arrested as of Sunday morning. An investigation by the NYPD’s Highway Collision Investigation Squad remains ongoing.

The section of sidewalk where the incident took place was recently widened, but did not prevent the driver from jumping the curb.

The incident occurred just a block away from the site of another fatal crash. Sanitation worker and cat rescuer Ernie Kiburis was driving just 200 feet from his house at Rockaway Freeway and Beach 108th Street when an off-duty police officer crashed her car into his, killing him.

106 people had been killed on city streets this year as of June 18, according to NYPD data. That’s five more than were recorded at the same time last year.

Conklin’s death wasn’t the only one from traffic carnage on Queens streets this weekend.

Two people died in a gruesome crash on the Belt Parkway in Springfield Gardens, near JFK Airport, in the early morning hours of Saturday. Police say a 35-year-old man was speeding in a Dodge Challenger in the left westbound lane of the Belt Parkway near 183rd Street, with a 29-year-old woman in the backseat, when he sideswiped the driver of a Mazda SUV in the center lane.

That led the Dodge driver to lose control of the vehicle and strike a gantry, splitting the vehicle in half and ejecting both passengers. The passenger was pronounced dead at the scene, while the driver was taken to Jamaica Hospital and later pronounced dead. The other driver was not injured.

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