Dorothy Bruns struck and killed two children in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with her car in March 2018. Eight months later, she was found dead after committing suicide. Bruns was initially described as an “out-of-control driver” who struck and killed two children March 5 with her vehicle as they walked inside of a crosswalk in Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York.
Bruns was found in her home on Staten Island on November 5. An NYPD spokesperson said that there had been no obvious signs of trauma around Bruns. A police source told the New York Daily News that a bottle of pills was found close to Bruns’ body. A suicide note that was also found close to Bruns’ body said that she was “tired of living like this.” CBS New York reports that police performed a welfare check on Bruns’ after a friend had not heard from her for several days.
44-year-old Dorothy Bruns, who suffered from multiple sclerosis and seizures, was arrested on several charges including homicide May 3, with prosecutors citing medical reports restricting the woman from driving, of which Bruns chose not to follow.
“We believe that she had a seizure…It’s a real tragedy, but we have to make sure that this woman should have been driving in the first place,” Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez stated March 6.
The incident occurred at approximately 12:40 p.m. March 5 at Ninth Street and Fifth Avenue, according to New York Daily News. Abigail Blumenstein, 4, and Joshua Lew, 1, died after being struck by the car while walking alongside their mothers, Ruthie Ann Blumenstein and Lauren Lew, who were also injured in the horrifying wreck.
Blumenstein, a Tony-winning Broadway star who is known by her stage name of Ruthie Ann Miles, was pregnant at the time of the tragedy.
Police were investigating whether Bruns, of Staten Island, ran a red light before hitting the pedestrians. Police told the New York Times the crash was not a hit-and-run. Bruns car crashed into parked vehicles after hitting the women and pedestrians.
“There’s a possibility it may have been some kind of medical condition involved here,” Stephen Davis, a NYPD spokesman, told the New York Times. “She did not hit and run.”
Bruns was initially released without charges after being treated for her injuries, police said. However, her license was revoked as the probe into the incident continued.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The 2 Mothers Were Coming From a Church Event With Their Children When They Were Struck by the Car, & Miles Later Lost the Baby She Was Carrying at the Time of the Crash
Miles and Lew were on their way back from a church event at a community center when the catastrophic event unfolded, the New York Post reported.
The women and children, along with a fifth victim, were rushed by medics to New York-Presbyterian Hospital, where Abigail and Joshua succumbed to their injuries.
Though the extent of the survivor’s injuries are not known at this time, NY Daily News initially reported Miles as being “critically hurt.”
Miles, who was seven months pregnant at the time of the crash, tragically lost her baby who was due in May, NY Daily News reported May 16. The unborn baby was initially thought to be unharmed.
“At the time of the crash Ruthie was pregnant and was severely injured,” Miles’ family lawyer, Ben Rubinowitz, told the media outlet. “This past Friday Ruthie and Jonathan lost their baby, Sophia Rosemary Wong Blumenstein. The pain suffered by Ruthie and Jonathan is nearly impossible to fathom.”
2. Bruns Was Arrested on Manslaughter Charges in the Case May 3, & Bruns’ Vehicle Has Been Cited 12 Times for Traffic Violations Since 2016
On May 3, authorities arrested Bruns on several charges, and prosecutors said the accident never should’ve happened since she was told not to drive. She pleaded not guilty the same day in a Brooklyn court to criminally negligent homicide, manslaughter and reckless driving.
Two months prior to the March crash, prosecutors stated a medical condition caused Bruns to drive into a parked car. Following the accident, Bruns was hospitalized and suffered a seizure, which reportedly led to a doctor instructing her not to drive for one year, which he reiterated during two follow-up appointments.
Despite the doctor’s orders, Bruns was involved in yet another accident on January 20, in which she fled the scene. Less than two months later, the two children were killed, which prosecutors said should have never happened considering the suspect’s history.
“She didn’t listen, for whatever selfish reasons, and she continued to drive,” prosecutor Craig Esswein stated in court May 3, according to CBS. “And unfortunately, two families lost children because of the defendant’s selfishness.
Records show that the 2012 Volvo registered to Dorothy Bruns has been cited for traffic violations in New York City 12 times since July 2016. You can see the records here. The citations were issued to the vehicle, not directly to Bruns, so it is not clear if she was the driver at the time of the violations.
Her vehicle was cited four times for failure to stop at a red light. The vehicle was captured committing the violations on camera. Three of those incidents happened in Brooklyn and one in Queens, records show. The vehicle was also cited four times for speed violations in a school zone. Two of those violations, which were also captured by camera, occurred in Brooklyn, one in Queens and one in Staten Island.
“Those two kids were ran over like dogs”” a witness told the NY Daily News.
A portion of the wreck was captured via the footage below:
NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis told the New York Times that the Volvo was seen either stopped or rolling slowly on Ninth Street, when it “inexplicably” began to move forward at Fifth Avenue, though the light was still apparently red.
“All of a sudden, it looks like it just starts to accelerate, striking the people in the other side of the intersection,” Davis told the Times. “They’re going to do a mechanical check of the car; they are doing a physical check of her. It’s going to take a while to figure it out.”
Joshua’s stroller was dragged more than 350 feet by Bruns’ car, authorities said.
3. Witnesses Say Bruns, Who Says Se Had a Medical Issue Before the Collision, Showed ‘No Emotion’ After They Took Her Out of Her Car
Witnesses said Bruns did not show any emotion after the crash.
“When they took her out, she was just standing there, like nothing,” Jennifer Muñiz told the Daily News. “No emotion. Not sad. Not crying. Not asking questions: ‘Is everybody all right?’ Not shaking. Nothing.”
The woman told police that the crash happened after she tried to avoid hitting a car by swerving out of the way, the Daily News reports. She also told authorities that a medical issue caused the wreck, and family members said she had a seizure while driving, according to the newspaper.
Bruns told police that she had no memory of the crash and officers said she was disoriented after it happened, the New York Post reports.
Bruns, who has MS, has had serious medical issues in recent years, neighbors told the New York Daily News, including “a few strokes and heart attack,” along with seizures.
“I don’t think she should have been driving, the way she looked,” neighbor Mark Torres told the newspaper. “She was hunched over, walked slow, slurring her words.”
4. The Incident Has Outraged Many in the Community, Who Have Called Bruns a ‘Murderer,’ While Others Have Rallied to Support the Victims
The public took to Bruns’ Facebook page to let the woman know exactly how they feel about the situation.
“Dorothy Bruns murdered two children with a Volvo today and is spending the evening at home with her family,” @_alexweinberg tweeted. “She still has her drivers license.”
“Guess who’s cleared and going back to work this b*tch I’m so excited,” reads Bruns’ latest public Facebook post, dated February 13.
“Damn you have a son and didn’t think of him cause look what you have done to two innocent kids. You deserve life in jail,” Ino Lozoya responded.
“…My heart hurts. Wow. My heart is aching just thinking of this, Marko St-Koulev stated. “You are a beautiful woman Dorothy, with a handsome son. What could possesses you to commit such an evil crime? I’m…speechless. Honestly, I hope Jesus has mercy on your soul. Cause at this rate. U really f***ed up.”
“Murderer!!!,” Nicholas Jones exclaimed. “You killed those babies, all because you wanted to run a red light.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to assist Miles and her family during this tragically difficult time. At the time of publishing, more than $123,000 of a $5,000 goal had been reached. The website states:
Our dear friend Ruthie Ann Miles encountered tragedy on March 5, 2018, when a reckless driver ran a red light in Brooklyn, striking four people, including Ruthie and her sweet four-year-old daughter, Abigail.
Ruthie, who is pregnant, is injured and in critical condition, and, very sadly, Abigail passed away.
This GoFundMe has been set up as a centralized point to accept donations. These contributions will go to Ruthie and her family.
Ruthie is beloved by her many friends and colleagues in the Broadway and touring communities. She is always kind and always has a smile. It is our honor to help her in this difficult time.
A GoFundMe Page was also created for Lew and her family, and has raised nearly $30,000 of a $5,000 goal. Click here to donate to the Lew family’s fund.
5. No Charges Were Initially Filed Against Bruns, Though Her License Was Suspended
Bruns was initially questioned but not charged immediately following the accident, with police citing an ongoing investigation.
Authorities said the woman’s license was suspended on March 6, the New Post reported.
It is typical for traffic investigations to take several weeks before a decision is made as to whether charges are filed. Investigators typically attempt to recreate the investigation, interview witnesses and will look for surveillance video of the crash. Police will also need to wait for the results of toxicology tests and will typically examine the driver’s cell phone to determine if it was being used at the time of the crash.
“It doesn’t look like anything deliberate at this point, but we have to figure it out,” police spokesman Stephen P. Davis told the New York Times in March. “It is terrible.”
Police said Bruns, who was driving a 2012 Volvo, suffered minor injuries.