At the southeast corner of Manhattan’s Union Square is a home-spun memorial attached to a traffic-light pole, with flowers, photos of a stunningly beautiful young woman—and a handwritten plea for justice from her anguished family. Fortunately, city authorities have not removed it. Here are the details from New York’s DNAInfo, June 21:
Family of Actress Killed in Hit-Run Holds Vigil on Her 22nd Birthday CHELSEA — As the investigation into the Union Square hit-and-run death of Roxana Sorina Buta continues, the aspiring actress’s friends and family celebrated her life Thursday in an emotional ceremony on what would have been her 22nd birthday… Buta was mowed down by a dump truck at 14th Street and Broadway May 24… Police said Wednesday [June 20] that the circumstances of her death are still under investigation. But Buta’s family’s lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, said police told him a Department of Transportation driver is being questioned. “They’re still investigating and determining whether to charge [the driver] with a crime or not,” he said. “The city is being incredibly derelict in resolving this issue.”
More from the Streets Blog, May 29:
NYPD: No Video of Driver Who Killed Roxana Sorina Buta The woman killed by a hit-and-run truck driver at Union Square last week has been identified as Roxana Sorina Buta. Last Thursday at approximately 1:30 a.m., Buta, 21, was walking east across Broadway at 14th Street, in the crosswalk and with the light, when an eastbound dump truck driver made a right turn and ran her over, according to reports. The driver continued south on Broadway… Cristina Oprea, Buta’s mother, has asked the driver to come forward. The Daily News reports that NYPD has told Oprea that there is no surveillance video of the truck. Pending corrective action from Albany, motorists in New York have strong incentives to flee the scene of a crash. As we’ve written before, even when they surrender or are caught by police, the current system is weighted to favor drivers who kill. It’s likely that the driver who struck Buta would face only a misdemeanor and would see little to no time in jail. In many cases, all a driver has to do to satisfy police and prosecutors is say he didn’t see the victim.
The Daily News on May 28 tells us that Buta was hit as she was returning home to her East Harlem apartment from her job as a waitress at Union Square’s Bar 6. She had emigrated from Romania when she was 11; she was studying at Hunter College, and had recently performed in the off-Broadway play, Him. And from Gothamist, May 29:
Mother of Pedestrian Killed By Dump Truck Driver: “He Should Give Himself Up” The grieving mother of the 21-year-old woman killed by a hit-and-run truck driver last week is speaking out. Roxana Sorina Buta was crossing Broadway at East 14th Street when a dump truck hit her (a witness said Buta had the light) crushing her. Cristina Oprea said, “All I want is justice for my daughter. He hit my daughter and he just kept on driving. Who does something like that? He should give himself up.”
This was not a “tragedy,” which implies a mere act of God. It was a crime. This is not a “personal tragedy” for Roxana’s family. This is a political issue—for all New Yorkers, and all inhabitants of Planet Earth. Down with the tyranny of the automobile! Justice for Roxana Sorina Buta!