This week, a teenager from Queens, New York was hit by a car and killed after an 88-year-old driver blew through a red light.
17-year-old Madeline Sershen was crossing at a crosswalk in Whitestone, New York when the driver ran a red light, causing the teen to fly onto the hood of her car before crashing into the windshield. She was taken to New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Queens where authorities say she died 30 minutes after the crash.
Sershen was a junior at St. Francis Prep with a 95 GPA. She was apparently leaving a hair salon on Francis Lewis Blvd. and walking to her boyfriend’s house, according to her father, Eric Sershen. The father of six told New York Daily News:
My daughter’s phone was in her briefcase. She wasn’t texting, she was walking in the crosswalk, had the green light. There’s nothing you can say, there are no words for it.
The 88-year-old driver who hit his daughter was later identified as Sheila Kahn-Prager. After the accident, Kahn-Prager was arrested and charged with running a red light, failing to exercise due care and failing to yield to a pedestrian. According to reports, the driver was given a desk appearance ticket and released from custody.
But, Eric Sershen blames Kahn-Prager and her family for allowing her to get behind the wheel of a car at such an old age.
Because of her age she should not have been on the road. I think the family of this person should’ve taken the keys away.
On his Facebook page, Sershen put a touching tribute up for his youngest child.
Yesterday morning was the worst day of my life! Our youngest daughter Madeline Mary was taken from us at 17. She was…
Many others who live in the Queens area have spoken out about the tragic accident and how unfortunate it is that this could even happen. One Twitter user was outraged that the teen’s father had to point out she wasn’t on the phone–rather than focus in on the driver who ran the red light.
Some have pointed out a very common debate had around the country–senior citizens should have to retake their road tests when reaching a certain age.
This story is an absolute tragedy, but one that has sparked a conversation that many people have discussed for quite a while–having senior citizens retested for their driver’s license when they reach a certain age.
According to AAA, in 2014, nearly 5,709 senior drivers were killed and 221,000 were injured in traffic crashes. Additionally, 50% of the middle-aged population and 80 percent of people in their 70s suffer from arthritis, crippling inflammation of the joints, which makes turning, flexing and twisting painful. There are other factors that are important to understanding senior drivers, such as medication they may be on and how it affects their driving–not to mention their “slowed” reaction time. While many are aware of the danger older drivers pose on the road, there has been no legal action taken to implement a law requiring the “retesting” of these drivers.
If you would like to share support to the Sershen family during this difficult time, a local school in the Queens neighborhood where Madeline’s mother, Catherine, works has set up a GoFundMe page for the family to help with the funeral expenses.