On Thursday, February 23, Sergei Alekseev was found guilty on two charges related to the 2021 death of cyclist Jeffrey Williamson. The charges – criminal misdemeanor of failure to yield and a failure to exercise due care – carry a combined maximum sentence of a month-and-a-half in jail, up to $1,000 in fines, and required participation in a driving program.
On June 29, 2021, then-71-year-old Williamson was traveling north by bike on Central Park West. Driving a mail truck, Alekseev turned right onto the 86th Street transverse and slammed into Williamson, who died within the hour. As upheld during the recent trial, Williamson had the right of way, with Assistant District Attorney Candace White emphasizing that he “had no duty to yield to the driver.”
After Williamson’s death in 2021, Alekseev was fired from his job as a USPS driver, which he had been doing for 15 years. At the time, he already had a history of bad driving, which included instances of an improper U-turn, speeding, and a 2016 crash that caused an injury and property damage. Since the conviction this past week, he has declined to comment, saying only, “I’m very sorry, I’m very sorry,” while leaving the courthouse.
Jeffrey Williamson was just a few weeks away from retirement at the time of his death, having worked as a writer and creative director at an advertising agency. He is survived by his wife and two sons. “I think that his loss has been a far greater tragedy than the charges would indicate but that’s the state of the law and there’s nothing that can be done about that,” his wife said of the recent ruling.
This is not the first instance of a cyclist being struck uptown – as highlighted in a recent Curbed article designating the area surrounding West 96th Street a “zone of pedestrian death.” While advocates for cyclist safety have pushed for protected bike lanes and other measures, lawyers surrounding Alekseev’s case have indicated that this conviction may help by signaling to drivers the seriousness of car-related accidents. While Alekseev’s lawyers attempted to advocate for a civil charge only, the decision to include a criminal conviction helps establish that similar incidents come with more than just a ticket.