Father says ‘Unattended and Running Cars are Deadly Weapons’

October 8, 2009; City Hall, NY – Council Member Elizabeth S. Crowley (D-Queens) was joined by parents, Brendan and Mei Ogle, of the fatal accident victim, as well as President of the Juniper Park Civic Association Robert Holden, to testify at today’s Transportation Committee hearing in favor of the Robert Ogle bill, a local law to raise the penalty for leaving your vehicle running and unattended.

Council Member Elizabeth Crowley introduced the bill at the City Council Stated Meeting on March 24, 2009 which was reviewed at the hearing today.

“Last February, a seemingly avoidable tragedy struck my district,” said Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, primary sponsor of the Robert Ogle Law.

“Sadly, the death of the two young men, Robert Ogle and Alex Paul, may have been avoided if a man had not left his car running while shopping in a store.

The current fine for leaving your car ignition on and unattended is five dollars.

Under the Robert Ogle bill, the fine will be raised to two-hundred and fifty dollars to deter anyone from being careless with their vehicles.

Leaving your car running and unattended seems like a minor, careless mistake but all New Yorkers must understand that it is irresponsible, dangerous and potentially deadly.”

The bill came in response two tragedies that happened within weeks of each other in two different parts of New York City. Last January in Chinatown, an unoccupied van was left in reverse and mounted a sidewalk, ramming into a group of preschool students, killing two of the children and injuring at least eleven other people.

Weeks later in February in Middle Village, Queens, a tragic hit and run occured due to a drunken thief who stole an idling car and fatally struck Alex Paul, 20, of Cypress Hills, Brooklyn and Robert Ogle,16, of Middle Village.

The parents of Robert Ogle, Brendan and Mei, attended the bill introduction in March 2009 and were at today’s hearing to testify in favor of making this bill a law.

“I’m here on behalf of Council Member Crowley’s bill,” said Brendan Ogle, the father of Robert Ogle who was fatally struck by a car that was stolen after being left running and unattended.

“I know too well that an unattended and running car can become a deadly weapon.

It is necessary to increase the awareness and penalties for people who are careless with their personal property because money talks. If people are aware that it costs $250 then they won’t leave their cars running and unattended. This is necessary legislation to that will avoid big problems for a lot of people because of someone else’s carelessness.”

“Our community suffered a tremendous loss of our own,” said Robert Holden, President of the Juniper Park Civic Association which represents 1600 families in Middle Village and Maspeth.

“Leaving your car running and unattended is like leaving a loaded gun laying around for anyone to take. Yet we look away.

Too often the City overlooks these small crimes with fatal consequences.

Leaving your car running and unattended is a crime and the owner should be held responsible for that crime.

When I first got my license in 1969, I made the same careless mistake people are making across this City.

I left the car running while I went into a candy store. The car fell into gear, rolled backwards and luckily, only hit a pole. Countless lives are lost around the City because of laziness and carelessness and this bill is important to ensure these mistakes do not continue.”

“Council Member Crowley was very clear with articulating the intent of the bill,” said Council Member John Liu, Chair of the Committee on Transportation and a signatory of the Robert Ogle bill. “It seems to me that the NYPD and the Administration is in favor of passing this bill and the only thing you are requesting are wording changes. These are wording changes that can be reconciled quickly over the next couple of weeks and this bill will pass. It crushes me to think that lives can be taken because of someone’s careless mistake. This simply cannot happen in this city.”

In partnership with the Robert Ogle bill, Council Member Elizabeth Crowley and the Ogle family, along with Council Member John Liu are launching an awareness campaign to prevent people from leaving their cars running while unattended.