Brooklyn Heights Resident Martha Atwater Killed in Tragic Accident on Clinton Street

A local woman was pronounced dead after she was struck by a vehicle which mounted the sidewalk in front of 200 Clinton St. this evening.

According to police, Martha Atwater, 48, of Remsen St. was struck by the 2011 Honda pickup truck which jumped the curb as it was heading north on Clinton St. from Atlantic Av. at approximately 5:40 p.m., its left side damaging the facade of Bagel Cafe and Two for the Pot. Ms. Atwater was taken to Long Island College Hospital, but could not be saved.

The 53-year-old driver of the vehicle remained at the scene, and was not expected to be charged.

(Publisher’s note: Atwater was involved in many Brooklyn Heights activities including the BHA House Tour. Her blog, Desperately Seeking Jon Stewart, was a very entertaining read. Take a moment to read to it today in her honor.

We at BHB are keeping her and her family in our thoughts and prayers.)

View more videos at: http://nbcnewyork.com.


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  • David on Middagh

    I just saw this on ABC news. I have little sympathy for great big SUVs with tinted glass that ride up on sidewalks. What the heck?

  • Andrew Porter

    And guess what—auto windows that are tinted so dark you can’t look in are actually illegal in NYC. Alas, the law is seldom enforced.

    I was at this intersection, walking home from Trader Joe’s and Sahadi’s, just a few hours before.

  • Andrew Porter

    Worked for Scholastic for more than a decade, according to Linked In:

    http://www.linkedin.com/pub/martha-atwater/17/a64/195

  • Amy on Hicks

    I knew Martha from the neighborhood. We went to the same hair salon for a stretch and the same coffee place and always shared a laugh. She was a light, always a great pleasure to see — smart, warm-hearted, with a wicked sense of humor and a lovely, ready smile. She will be greatly missed. Brooklyn Heights has lost one of its most vibrant, generous souls.

  • A heights Parent

    Saddened to hear of this tragic accident on tonight’s news and to realize the victim is a much-loved and very active member of our Brooklyn Heights community.. Martha will be greatly missed by her many friends, including those at Packer Collegiate. She was generous with her time and talent and her passing is an incredible loss not only to her family.

  • north heights res

    Wonderful family, active volunteers, two great daughters enrolled at a local school. Unspeakably, unspeakably sad.

  • Jeff

    I was there after the accident but before the firemen and police arrived. I saw the driver hand his license to a cop. At that time, his jacket was open and it looked to me like he had a shield or badge hanging from his neck. I can’t say for sure he was an off-duty copy, but it looked suspicious. I told one of the cops that they should lock him up, and he said they will. I feel horrible that this woman died. So sad.

  • FullSpecial

    Heartfelt condolences to the family.

  • Laurel in Philly

    I know Martha and her wonderful family and am shocked by this awful news. Love and strength to Tom and the kids. Martha’s smile and warmth will always be with us.

  • klowy

    This is right outside my front door. It is horrifying. I can’t even imagine the grief the family is going through.

  • Rhialto

    Horrific. We are shaken.

  • David on Middagh

    NBC coverage:

    http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/SUV-Hits-Woman-Atlantic-Clinton-Cobble-Hill-Brooklyn-192610421.html

    They zoom in on the license plate of the Ridgeline as if to say, “Do your own research; draw your own conclusions.”

  • heights resident

    So inexplicably sad and tragic. Martha was a lovely woman with everything going for her. God bless her soul, her two daughters and her loving husband. A real loss to this community

  • David2020

    I can’t believe that she is gone. She was a beautiful person.

    My thoughts and prayers are with her family. This is so, so sad.

  • Joralemon St

    Was the driver speeding before he lost control? Sadly, we’ll never know since the NYPD rarely investigates these “accidents.”

  • Heightser

    He had to have been speeding. No question.

  • Bloomy

    Can anyone explain to me why the driver of the vehicle would not be charged with a crime? I am not a lawyer, but wouldn’t this be involuntary manslaughter?

  • alice

    Good Question! I ran a check on the license plate and it nothing comes up.

  • http://twitter.com/RKWinvisibleman Robert Wright

    The driver will not be charged, Bloomy, because, as I explained a little while ago in a blogpost, the NYPD doesn’t think these things are worth investigating or prosecuting: http://invisiblevisibleman.blogspot.com/2012/10/do-as-you-like-motorists-and-dont-blame.html Meanwhile, the NYPD hands out 5 per cent of traffic tickets to cyclists. While nearly 300 people a year die in collisions involving motor vehicles, the last death after a collision with a cyclist was in 2009. The NYPD are interested in traffic offenses that are easy to detect and prosecute, not in reducing the death toll on the city’s roads.

  • Joe A

    No not necessarily. First there is no such thing as “involuntary” manslaughter. There are different degrees of manslaughter but the lowest degree would at least have required that he acted “recklessly”. For instance if he were recklessly speeding and lost control of his vehicle and climbed the sidewalk, it might result in a manslaughter charge. If it were strictly an accident (stepped on gas instead of brake pedal) there would be no recklessness and hence no criminal charges.

  • north heights res

    Can we please not turn this into an argument or a platform for one’s own agendas? A family, a neighborhood, a school, a community are grieving…Please, out of respect for Martha and her family.

  • Tiffany

    It’s horrible how awful things happen to the greatest people. It’s hard to believe she’s gone. Martha was an amazing human being, an adoring mother, a witty and wise friend…She meant so much to so many people. My heart breaks for Tom and the girls.

  • Joe A

    I think that is a bit unfair. This was a horrible accident and my heart goes out to the family, but indeed at this point it appears to be just that – an accident. Preliminary reports say that the driver may have lost consciousness due to diabetes.

    It’s not that police don’t want to investigate and/ or prosecute incidents such as this but rather it is that the law does not support criminal charges absent criminal behavior such as recklessness. Had the driver been drunk, or speeding, or talking on his phone there might be a case but we don’t charge people with crimes for accidents no matter how unfortunate they may be.

  • Joe A

    Really? No question? It couldn’t have been that he lost consciousness for a moment like preliminary reports have indicated?

  • Joe A

    Absolutely not true. NYPD, like all police departments, thoroughly investigate all fatal accidents.

  • harumph

    somehow I cannot stomach your (constant) political vitriol when the person who died meant so much to this community. Martha was amazing – without a doubt she will be missed.

  • Joe A

    What political vitriol are you talking about????

  • http://twitter.com/RKWinvisibleman Robert Wright

    No, Joe A, it’s an entirely fair point in this case. A driver has a responsibility to take reasonable care with the deadly killing machine in his or her charge. There is no way that a driver taking reasonable care would end up speeding onto the sidewalk and killing a pedestrian.
    It’s being reported elsewhere that the driver blacked out because of diabetes. If so, that makes it still clearer in my view that the driver was grossly negligent. Any driver who knows that he or she has a medical condition that could cause him or her to lose consciousness has a particularly high responsibility to manage the condition to avoid an incident like this.
    An accident is something that’s unavoidable. Nearly all killings with motor vehicles are down to some piece of entirely avoidable negligence and consequently aren’t just accidents.
    I cycle past the point where this incident took place every morning. It’s a point where anyone paying any attention would be driving slowly and carefully. The way into Clinton St across Atlantic Avenue is narrow, busy with pedestrians and normally obstructed by parked cars. Someone who drives across there at speed and ends up on the sidewalk isn’t involved in “just an accident”. That takes a degree of negligence that our society has been far too ready for far too long to accept from people in charge of motor vehicles.

  • http://twitter.com/RKWinvisibleman Robert Wright

    Why is it respectful to the family to pretend that it isn’t a huge issue in New York City that the police stand by while motor vehicles kill nearly 300 people a year? If people had shown less respect of that kind in the past, this appalling incident might never have happened.
    For the record, if the worst happens and some motorist’s negligence ends up with my crushed to death on a sidewalk, I want people to make a huge fuss about it because it doesn’t have to be this way.

  • Joe A

    I am not going to get into a long debate on this. If he was speeding he is definitely criminally responsible. If he had a valid driver’s license but passed out while driving, then he is not criminally responsible absent any other reckless behavior. He, of course, is still responsible civilly.

    That is not opinion, that is NY state law from the perspective of someone that has been in law enforcement for over 20 years. You can agree or disagree with how the law was written but not how it is to be applied.