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Critics Demand Stronger Enforcement After String Of Weekend Hit-And-Runs In NYC

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The NYPD on Monday was trying to solve a string of hit-and-runs all around the city over the weekend.

As CBS2's Emily Smith reported, three victims died in the hit-and-run incidents, and all of the drivers were still on the run as of early Monday evening.

Just before 5 a.m. Sunday, a car struck a pedestrian at Fifth Avenue and Ninth Street in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

The driver of a late model, four-door Nissan Altima went through a red light and hit a 41-year-old man who was crossing Fifth Avenue, police said.

The driver didn't stop and fled south on Fifth Avenue, police said. The man was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

"I just see the police over here with the man's sneakers on the floor," a witness said.

On Monday, CBS2 found police ticketing drivers at the same intersection, as they searched for the person responsible.

"It's terrible; it's scary," said Erin Conners.

Police are now looking for the car, which they said was light brown or tan with a missing passenger side mirror, broken bumper and an inoperable passenger side headlight and fog light.

The accident was one of several hit-and-run crashes citywide over the weekend.

Around the same time of the Brooklyn crash, police said 48-year-old Besik Shenglia died after being hit by an unidentified vehicle on 111st Street in Ozone Park, Queens.

Sonia Ramirez was walking home when she saw something on the street.

"The car was here and he was laying right here," Ramirez said.

Police said around 1:30 a.m. Sunday, 63-year-old Jose Contreras was struck by a black sport-utility vehicle near the entrance of the Cross Bronx Expressway at Webster Avenue in the Tremont section of the Bronx.

Contreras' son found him in the street outside of a catering hall where the family was celebrating a birthday.

"He turned to walk back towards the hall, and it happened while he was crossing the street back," said Joseph Contreras.

The SUV kept going, police said. Contreras was taken to Saint Barnabas Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

In SoHo, police said a 30-year-old man was struck and seriously injured at 568 Broadway near Prince Street around 3:30 a.m. Sunday. There is no word on the victim's condition.

Also in Queens, a 22-year-old woman was hit by a car at Guy Brewer Boulevard and 119th Avenue in South Jamaica. The victim is in stable condition and police said they're looking for a silver minivan.

City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez (D-10th) is calling for all of the drivers allegedly involved to surrender.

"Hitting someone with your car and driving away is cowardly and despicable and those that do it must be made an example of," Rodriguez said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio recently credited his Vision Zero initiative to reduce traffic fatalities, saying it is working.

But attorney Anthony Mascolo said with five hit-and-runs this weekend alone, the city's plan needs to be amped up.

"If you flee the scene of an accident, $500 fine. Flee the scene with death involved, it can be between $5,000 and $10,000," Mascolo said. "But even that is not enough in today's world. That number should be at least $100,000 in my opinion."

In addition to fines, attorney Peter Ferraiuolo said oftentimes, the criminal case gets pleaded down – offering the driver to get back on the road quickly, and sometimes a drunken driver leaves the scene simply because they will not be able to be charged with drunken driving if caught later.

"I don't know if the need to change the actual law is necessary, because if you leave the scene of a serious injury or death, it's a felony," Ferraiuolo said. "But enforcement and the prosecution should be tough to stop those things from happening."

Ferraiuolo feels confident that the hit-and-run drivers from the weekend will be found, but that alone will not be enough to make drivers slow down or encourage someone to step up when things go wrong.

Ferraiuolo feels that even the most minor hit-and-runs should be treated as if someone got hurt.

And Caroline Samponaro, deputy director of Transportation Alternatives, said the city's Vision Zero initiative is working. But she said, "What we're calling on the city and the state to do is to put together a joint action plan to tackle the epidemic of hit-and-runs on New York City streets."

Samponaro said last year alone, there were 4,000 hit-and-run crashes that resulted in serious injury or death.

"I mean hit-and-runs are perverse really, right; leaving a victim, leaving a family with no justice, no consequence," Samponaro told 1010 WINS' Glenn Schuck.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-tips (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-pista (74782), visit or text tips to 274637 (crimes) then enter TIP577.

A representative of Mayor de Blasio's office said each case is aggressively investigating each case.

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