Janet Lee

Janet Lee
Photo:Janet Lee, injured by a taxi partition.

Friday, March 29, 2013

What options remain?

The FBI’s Charles McGuinty wrote to me, in reply to a complaint about the practice of using the steel grid on police car partitions (the ‘cage’) to deliberately injure prisoners.

I was told that the FBI will do nothing about it.

Institutionalized, nationwide police brutality is OK with them.

When asked about the number of cab drivers killed despite the NYC taxi partition mandate, or about the number of occupants killed because of a partitions, I was told the NYC Medical Examiners’ office doesn’t keep such statistics.

How many killed these two ways is not important to that office.

When I meet with Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicle officials, I was told they will keep ‘passing’ cars with uncertified partitions at state motor vehicle inspections.

They assert that uncertified partitions are OK.

Official letters of warning have been issued to some partition makers from the USDOT.

They have been ignored and worse. Changes such as retro-fitting seat belts, that the partition installer removed, were paid for… by the consumer. That is illegal.

Senator Kennedy suggested I contact the Federal Highway Administration.

Mayor Menino never replies.

State Senator Dan Wolf is impossible to contact as long as his staff keeps running interference to keep him from meeting with me.

None of the 30 attorneys I have offered to send the warning letters to, to help with their clients’ partition injury cases, has accepted the offer.
18 trauma surgeons have raised the alarm, but none have responded to my exhortations that the partitions are illegal.

The Boston Globe has never published any of my letters to the editor.

When speaking to newspaper or radio reporters, they remain oblivious to the problem.

Television consumer affairs reporters refuse to look into this. Not even John Stossell of Fox news.

None of the dozens of individuals (some famous) have succeeded in convincing their attorneys to pursue their case in federal court.

When I was injured this way, my attorney Lazar Lowinger, lied to me when he said he would take it to federal court.

After exhausting all options I am considering some type of guerrilla action.

I invite any law enforcement body to challenge me on this.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Dr.Ben Carsen

“Mmm,” she answered, “they were good.” “Mother, you didn’t eat those birds!” he said, unable to contain his shock. “Those birds cost five thousand dollars apiece. They could dance, they could sing, and they could talk!” “Well,” she calmly replied, “then they should’ve said something.” 

This funny story points out how important it is for us to speak up when confronted with danger. If we see our freedoms eroding around us and are afraid to stand up for what we value, we too will ultimately end up in the stew like those birds. Most Germans did not agree with Hitler’s insane agenda, but their collective silence permitted an unimaginable human tragedy that stained world history known as the Holocaust. How might their nation’s history and our world’s history have played out differently if those who saw what was happening had taken a stand for what they believed?

Carson M.D., Ben (2012-01-24). America the Beautiful: Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great (p. 185). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

18 doctors, other than Ben Carsen, have spoken out about taxi partition hazards. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Sue Happy Troopers?

Steve Crowell ·  Top Commenter · Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology
God bless Trooper Russell and I hope he gets a lawyer who'll sue the maker of the partition that struck Trooper Russells' Head.

  • Oliver Margetin ·  Top Commenter
    He wont do that, because he's a better man then that. Hes not sue happy like so many people are!

  • Steve Crowell ·  Top Commenter · Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology
    Those partitions are illegal and the makers of partitions have been warned by the USDOT. Lowell is far from the first injured like this, many have died.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

NYC Medical Examiner cannot be bothered to count the dead.

From: Freedom of Information <FOIL@ocme.nyc.gov>
To: stvcrowell@yahoo.com
Cc: outgoing agency <outgoingagency@customerservice.nyc.gov>
Sent: Wednesday, March 28, 2012 9:31 AM
Subject: RE: City of New York OCME - Freedom of Information Law Request- Correspondence #1-1-737676961 Message to Agency Head,

Good morning.   I am writing in reply to your two emails to the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner Freedom of Information Law email address in which you seek the following:
“I have noticed partitions kill taxi occupants in collisions for 44 years now. Ive also noticed that drivers with partitions are shot dead nearly every year. Cab drivers seem to be the unwilling participants in an experiment that has gone very badly. Are there no ethical barriers for these do-gooders who require partitions that kill and dont work right?”
“Can you count the number of cab drivers killed with a partition in their cab? Can you also tell me how many people have been killed hitting their head on the partition in a collision? It is illegal under federal auto safety law to trade off occupant safety for protection for the operator from assailants. It is especially upsetting when drivers are shot dead anyway.”
This Agency has no records which count the number of deaths which may have occurred in New York City involving a taxi cab which contained a partition.     
We also cannot answer your questions about “ethical barriers for do gooders” and federal auto safety law. 
Thank you.
Mimi C. Mairs
Special Counsel, Forensic Biology
Office of Chief Medical Examiner
Legal Department
421 East 26th Street
New York, New York 10016
Tel.  212.323.1903
Fax   212.323.1920

My Reply;

I think it would be a prudent idea to count how many people are killed in taxis... because of, partitions in collisions, and how many drivers are killed... despite partitions, in assaults.
Considering it is a city requirement to use partitions in taxis, it would seem incumbent on the city to keep track of these statistics.

Many trauma surgeons have become alarmed about the problem. I know of two medical studies done regarding this risk of taxi partition injury and death.

I think you should also count how many officers have been killed in rear-end collisions using a partition.

Also, count how many prisoners have been brutalized by a partition. Some might place this voluntary act of 'waffling" or " noodling" the prisoner, higher up on the list of priorities. Some don't have this on their priority list at all.

Civil rights are being denied all who are subject to injury and death in this manner. Partitions in taxis are a bad idea, in a bad endeavor to try to save drivers lives, according to current sources. Early sources (1968) said it was used in NYC cabs, in the event the passenger feared the driver - the passenger would have control of the partition window. The fact is this; if they were viable they'd be purchased without a mandate to do so. They are mandatory 

Whoever the partition is attempting to protect, shouldn't the first rule of medical ethics prevail here by 'first - doing no harm'? If partitions were injurious in collisions, but saved drivers lives, we'd call that a trade off or possibly, acceptable collateral damage. When there is no benefit to the driver, it isn't either one.

It is not deniable that drivers get shot dead WITH partitions in their cabs. The study done on partition use viability in 1997 deliberately did not count the 400% increase in cab driver murders, just the 20% decrease in non-fatal assaults on cab drivers.

Greater attention to this matter is called for by many doctors and experts. I think it is time for the Medical Examiners office to look into this.

Thank you,

Steve Crowell

Sunday, March 03, 2013

My "American Dream" stifled

When I was young, I was taught concepts such as supply and demand and inflation, and learned about the effect that governments and individuals have on the global economy and on the price of familiar commodities.

I was introduced to the importance of seeking a career that would help me realize my life potential and achieve a noble purpose.

I was taught that if I could learn how to create and run my own business, maybe with the help of the business community, I could succeed. 

My mentors fostered ethical decision-making as I prepared to enter the workforce and global marketplace.

I wanted the chance to examine the U.S. economic system, explore business operations, study the emerging global economy, and acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to function as a competent citizen, worker and consumer.

In short; I was taught capitalism by Junior Achievement.

It hasn’t worked out quite the way I imagined it.

In my effort to fulfill my American Dream I have encountered resistance from every level of our government.

I have had the law explained to me, exhaustively, in a three page letter, by the top lawyer, for the largest US Government agency, in existence, the USDOT. It is abundantly clear, from that letter, that federal law covers automobile partition performance. I seem to be the only person, other than dozens of trauma surgeons, who recognizes that violations of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Laws have severe consequences. Lawyers are astoundingly ignorant about partition safety. 
Thousands are injured every year and all the lawyers can say is "Should have worn the belt" or, "The driver needs the partition". The first will not assure prevention of injury from an illegal partition and the second just isn't true. No lawyer has ever gone after the illegal partition angle. A partition killed Massachusetts State Police Trooper Ellen Englehardt, yet the driver of the small car that struck her cruiser in the trunk, is being charged with homicide.

When I first conceived the idea that an automobile partition could be made to be attractive and safer, I implemented the idea.

I built a prototype taxi partition for Peugeot Motors of N. America in 1984 for the taxi model they wanted to sell in Boston. With the advent of the taxi partition came many drawbacks, when using the conventional design. The first and most glaring problem is the fact that interior dimensions are diminished by the partition always being installed in a “fixed” position. My design would be the first to retain ‘factory dimension’ rear seat leg room and ‘factory dimension’ front seat adjustment travel. The Crowell Partition “moves”… with the front seat adjustment. Both front and rear seat occupants notice this difference immediately when seated in a taxi with a Crowell Partition.

The next thing I addressed was retention of seat belts and head restraints. I took a look at the conventional manner of installing taxi partitions which precluded retention of these federally mandated safety devices. I found a way to avoid removing seat belts and head restraints.

The vertical angle of the glazing section is a problem. Ninety degrees to the horizon is the worst possible angle. It causes every bright light, such as sunlight, headlights and streetlights to reflect, obscuring rear view visibility. I found a way to install the glazing so there are no reflections from the horizon.

Another obvious hazard is the placement of a steel panel, found in conventional partition designs, which covers the padding on the back of the front seat. I found a way to retain the benefit of padding, by incorporating a pad on the partition. Mine is the first partition to comply with FMVSS #201 for padding in the head impact area of the back of the front seat.

An aesthetic and practical drawback of conventional partition design, is the noise that emanates from the conventional partitions’ parts rattling and squeaking. The conventional partition not only blocks sound from front to back and from back to front seat areas, but it also makes its’ own sounds. My design is totally SILENT. It is constructed from a single sheet of 3/8” Lexan sheet glazing, bent into a configuration that conforms to the back of the front seat. It makes a big difference in cab operation when the driver and passenger can communicate without the usual ‘partition noise’ difficulty. I also developed an intercom system which allows the driver to amplify the voices from the rear seat area. It is a significant advantage to be able to hear the conversation going on in the rear seat area, especially when it is assumed the driver CANNOT hear.

But the aspect of this idea that really had me stoked was the fact that Federal compliance is not optional and all of my competitors seem to be oblivious to Federal Automobile Safety Laws. I figured when I prompted official “letters of warning” it would usher in a new age of compliance. The letters have been ignored by state and local municipalities.

I installed no less than 50 partitions in Boston taxis. One year (year four) the police required the removal of the certification of compliance label from every Crowell Partition. Six months later every partition, none of which had ever failed inspection, was required to be removed and replaced by illegal uncertified partitions.

The Massachusetts State Police used two Crowell Partitions for two years with high marks for function and appearance. The Crowell Partition was not seriously considered for purchase. Uncertified, ineligible manufacturers products were welcomed on the bid list.

These constitute restraint of trade and involve unfair bidding practices. 

Saturday, March 02, 2013

The difference in manners North and South

Trooper pulls over an 80 year old lady and in the course of events learns she has three pistols in her car or on her person (one in her purse), he asks "What are you afraid of?" She replies "Not aF@#cking thing!"

I often was asked what prompted me to move from 20 years of Boston taxi driving to New Orleans taxi driving during those 14 years. I would joke and say "I got tired of crooked politicians".

Once a man asked me what I found different about New Orleans traffic from Boston traffic. I said "In Boston they throw the bird more whimsically." He said, "Yeah I guess so, I don't know if an armed society is a safer society, but it is clearly a more polite society."

It is at least when people don't ask stupid questions, I guess.

Iman, Betsy Carter, Tom Glavin, Dauner Sanchez, Keith Lockheart, Barbara Windsor and Marc Summers Tell their partition injury stories

Dr. John Sherman - Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery, New York Hospital, New York City - "The results are uniformly disastrous: patients with head wounds from dividers, fractured noses, lacerations and worse.  Last month I saw two patients die from taxi-related injuries.”

"Where the spirit does not work with the hand - there is no art." - Leonardo DaVinci

ON A FRIDAY NIGHT IN 1983, I was in a taxi in New York riding home from dinner with friends. A drunk driver ran a red light and hit the cab, and I was thrown toward the glass partition. I tried to duck, but my face hit the glass, and the impact fractured my cheekbone, my eye socket, my collarbone, and several ribs.            Iman (supermodel married to David Bowie)

I have been bringing these problems to the attention of the authorities for over 30 years.

Novelist Betsy Carter broke her upper and lower jawbones and lost almost all her teeth when she slammed into a partition in a taxi accident in the tunnel under Park Avenue in Midtown.
"My lips were ‘filleted' — that was the word my doctor used," she said of the accident, which she wrote about in her 2002 memoir, "Nothing to Fall Back On."

There is a moment when you stop letting life just happen to you. Mine came at 10:15 on a cold morning in 1983. I was in the back seat of a taxicab on my way to ESQUIRE  after an appointment at the dentist.  Smudges of snow lined the streets as the cab dipped into a tunnel  under Park Avenue. Engrossed in a New York Times story about David Bowie, I barely noticed the light go from sun-shine white, to chapel gray. Something about the instant dimness, a jerky turn of the wheel, I don’t know what - made my heart race. The cab rushed into the darkness. There was a wall of something solid, not moving in front of us. A stalled Chevy. Did the driver see what I saw? Shouldn’t he slam on the brakes? Why couldn’t I find the words to warn him?
In a slow horrifying, motion, every second took its own eternity. Hold on, hold on… but there was nothing to hold on to. The world was going sideways. I was hurtled forward. Launched was more like it. Shrieking tires, grinding metal. My body slammed into the partition in front of me. I heard the sound of a belly-flop from a high dive. I didn’t scream. I watched. And then there was silence; as terrifying as the commotion that preceded it. There was blood. I saw a hand I recognized as my own, shaking. My  teeth. They’d come undone. This had to be a dream, like dreams I’d had so often. I’m getting up to speak in front of a crowd, and all my teeth fall out. I’m opening the front door to greet a date; all my teeth fall out. I thought about my parents and what they’d suffered and that this is what that must feel like. A voice in an accent I can only describe as frantic, broke the silence. “Get out of my cab! You, get out now!”                    Betsy Carter (Esquire Mag. Editor)

Tom Glavin (NY Mets Pitcher) speaks about his partition impact injury in a taxi
"I guess it's a hard lesson to learn. I know probably every one of us are guilty at some point of time of getting in a cab in particular and not putting on a seat belt, but I will say I'm always diligent about it when I'm driving my own car, or in my own car, but probably neglectful like everybody else when I get in a cab."
The driver of the taxi, George Kovalonoks, 54, of Brooklyn, and the other vehicle, John Struble, 40, of West Milford, N.J., were both uninjured, police said.
Glavine's wife called him back immediately after the crash, and he called the Mets to tell them what happened. He was taken by ambulance to NYU Medical Center in Manhattan. He hopes to be fitted for temporary front teeth Friday and have the stitches removed Monday or Tuesday. It will be at least eight months before his mouth heals enough for him to get permanent replacement teeth.
"I actually kept the one that had fallen in my hand," he said. "The other one was halfway back in my mouth, I left it in there until I got to the hospital. They looked at it, tried to assess whether or not I could keep them. All the bone and whatnot I guess up there was battered and broken, so that's why they didn't keep the teeth."

Duaner Sanchez
  • Sanchez, 26, who was 5-1 with a 2.60 ERA in 49 games, Dawin and 30-year-old Milagros Rodriguez were riding a taxi south on I-95 near Northwest 79th Street in Miami at 1:44 a.m. Monday. The cab was hit by a Ford Crown Victoria, spun out of control and struck a concrete barrier, the Florida Highway Patrol said last night.
Sanchez, who was riding in the rear seat, apparently used his pitching arm to shield his head during a collision with the cab's bullet-proof partition, Dawin said in a phone interview. "He put his arm up so he wouldn't hurt his head." Minaya said doctors decided to operate immediately.
"He woke up [yesterday] and he was really in pain," Minaya said. "The doctors realized the ligaments in the area were torn. It was just a severe injury."
Dawin said his brother was taken in for surgery about 3:30 p.m. yesterday and hadn't come out by 7 p.m.
"He was feeling a little down because he's out for the rest of the season, but at least he knows he'll pitch again," Dawin said. Duaner Sanchez's cab accident in the early morning hours on Interstate 95 in Miami. Sanchez, out for a late-night food run, seperated his shoulder when a drunk driver slammed into the cab in which he was riding.

"It isn't that they can't see the solution. It is that they can't see the problem." - G.K.Chesterton

Keith Lockheart

Boston Pops conductor led with his chin
One day following an accident in a New York taxi, Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart was smiling and showing off the numerous stitches in his chin, the only part of his body injured in a dramatic two-vehicle collision.
"I'm very lucky," he said. "If you saw the taxi, you'd have sworn everyone in it died. I could have been carried away in a body bag.

Marc Summers

His face was crushed. The television personality Marc Summers broke almost every bone in his face.
“I’m lucky to be alive according to the doctors,” said Marc. You probably remember him from “Double Dare”, Marc now hosts and produces shows on the Food Network. He was in a Philadelphia taxi accident in August. He smashed into the credit card machine that’s mounted on the protective shield.

Barbara Windsor
The 65-year-old (UK) soap star, who plays Queen Vic landlady Peggy Mitchell, was treated for head injuries at University College Hospital in central London on Tuesday night after a taxi she was in crashed into a van.
Husband Scott Mitchell, 37, said the actress had been thrown against the glass partition of the cab and was "very lucky" not to have suffered more severe injuries.

I solved all of the drawbacks of using dangerous, illegal partitions with a better design. Why would I build a partition if they aren’t viable in taxis? I build partitions for police cruisers. It has always been my contention that partitions are not viable assault or robbery rate reduction devices. I expect to see no sales of even legal, safe partitions to cab owners who know that partitions just mean the robbery WITH a partition will most likely, be done with a gun. It is too easy, at any time, to point a gun through, or around the partition.

"There is nothing harder than the softness of indifference." Jaun Montalvo (1832-1889)

In the whole arena of automobile interior partitions there are some other sinister angles (besides trading off occupant safety in collisions for increased driver risk of murder in an unethical experiment with the lives of the unwitting public and the witting cab drivers involved), there are numerous incidents where prisoners have been thrust face-first into the steel grid of the police cruiser partition. 

There are too many cases where it was alleged by the police that the injuries from such contact were “self-inflicted”.
After much research I find it odd that cruiser partitions are the only thing most of these allegedly self-abusing prisoners ever strike their heads on.

Tim Ray - a Monee, Illinois police officer



Tim Ray

"Industry without art, is brutality" Ananda Coomaraswamy