Statement of Joan and Bernt von Ohlen, mother and father of Matthew von Ohlen:
“On July 2nd of last year, our son Matthew was riding his bicycle in a painted bike lane when he was intentionally struck and killed by Juan Maldonado. That night, we lost our only child. Today, over a year later, we will see some semblance of justice served at Mr. Maldonado’s sentencing.
Juan Maldonado was found guilty of second-degree manslaughter, leaving the scene of a fatal crash, and reckless driving in the death of Matthew von Ohlen, our son. He will be sentenced today, Wednesday, October 18 at the Kings County Supreme Court, 320 Jay Street in Brooklyn. Judge Mondo is the presiding. We will be present for the sentencing.
Matthew was killed on Grand Street, in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, after Juan Maldonado accelerated into the painted bike lane on Grand Street, ran a red light, and continued driving in the bike lane, where he struck our son and dragged him 28 feet.
On the night he killed Matthew, Juan Maldonado broke numerous traffic laws and drove with documented recklessness -- just like many drivers in New York City who operate motor vehicles with zero regard for human life and who face little to no enforcement of traffic laws.
While cyclists and pedestrians are killed every other day in New York City, typically there are no repercussions for the killer drivers. Prosecution is even less likely with hit-and-run drivers, as in Matthew’s death. We hope this verdict will show that this is an unacceptable status quo.
We are confident that proper investment in street designs that truly protect cyclists, like a protected bike lane on Grand Street, could have saved our son’s life. On the occasion of this sentencing, we urge the City of New York to fund the installation of safe protected bike lanes, which dramatically reduce crashes, across New York City, and accelerate plans for a protected bike lane on Grand Street, where Matthew was killed, before any other lives are lost.
A policy to promote bicycling is useless without funding, without public outrage from elected officials when cyclists are needlessly killed, and without consistent decision-making that prioritizes protecting human life over moving motor vehicles. We urge the City of New York to implement all three now.”