A driver charged with manslaughter after she fatally struck two young children and injured a pregnant mother in Brooklyn last March was found dead in her Staten Island home on Tuesday in what appeared to be a suicide, the police said.
The body of the driver, Dorothy Bruns, 44, was discovered by a friend in her Targee Street apartment around 5 p.m., the police said. A bottle of prescription pills and a suicide note were near her body. The medical examiner has not yet determined a cause of death, but the police are investigating the case as a likely suicide.
Ms. Bruns had multiple sclerosis and was prone to seizures. Though her doctors had ordered her not to drive, she was behind the wheel when she ran a red light on March 5 at Ninth Street and Fifth Avenue in the Park Slope neighborhood, hitting Abigail Blumenstein, 4, Joshua Lew, 1, and their mothers.
Both children were killed. Abigail’s mother, Ruthie Ann Miles, an award-winning actress, was 39 weeks pregnant and lost her unborn child as a result of her injuries. Joshua’s mother, Lauren Lew, was also injured.
Though Ms. Bruns had a clean driving record at the time of the accident, city records indicated that the Volvo she was driving had been caught by speed cameras driving at high speeds around schools on four different instances. Cameras also recorded the car running at least four red lights.
The accident sparked outrage and protests in the neighborhood. Residents said the intersection had been the site of previous accidents and was in need of safety upgrades.
Ms. Bruns was hospitalized briefly after the accident and had her license suspended. The Brooklyn district attorney’s office charged her with involuntary manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, reckless endangerment and assault, among other charges. She was released on $75,000 to await trial and, if convicted, faced up to 15 years in prison.
Witnesses told the police that Ms. Bruns appeared to go stiff as her car moved through the crosswalk. Another witness said that after the Volvo came to a stop, “she was twitching and appeared to be out of it.” Prosecutors said Ms. Bruns had two seizures in the hours immediately after the fatal crash.
At a news conference on Wednesday morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed sadness when asked about Ms. Bruns’s death. The intersection is in the neighborhood where Mr. de Blasio raised his children and still owns two houses.
“This was an extremely painful case from moment one and I wish none of this had come to pass,” said Mayor De Blasio. “It’s profoundly sad.”
If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go toSpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources. Here’s what you can do when a loved one is severely depressed.
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