Emotional vigil held to remember young woman killed in hit-and-run in Hamilton Heights

HAMILTON HEIGHTS, Manhattan (WABC) -- A vigil was held Monday night to remember a young woman struck and killed in Hamilton Heights by a hit-and-run driver who was allegedly on drugs.

With candles in hand and tears overflowing, family and friends came to mourn 26-year-old aspiring artist Erica Imbasciani.

She was innocently trying to cross Amsterdam Avenue at 141st Street Friday night when she was killed in a hit-and-run crash.

Police say the driver of the SUV from the Bronx was on drugs at the time and was caught a few blocks away after ramming into another vehicle.

Remnants of the crash where it happened can still be seen in the area.

Advocates say this stretch of Amsterdam Avenue from 110th Street to 155th Street is a danger zone and needs to be fixed immediately.

"There's on average 100 accidents a year," Councilman Mark Levine said. "I've been in office for five years and there's been five lives taken from us on just this stretch of Amsterdam."

The Department of Transportation confirms they have had plans for two years now to redesign this part of the avenue, but have been voted down by the community board.

"We need a safer Amsterdam Avenue right now," Transportation Alternatives Senior Organizer Erwin Figueroa said. "No more community board meetings, no more back-and-forths."

"We have people who are zooming up to the bridge, we have people who are accelerating down the hill," Levine said. "This is a dangerous stretch of Amsterdam Avenue that needs to be modernized and upgraded for safety."

The plans include extended sidewalks, lights re-timed and left turn lanes.

The downside is that there would be fewer traffic lanes and parking spots.

But for advocates and the Imbasciani family, it's well worth the trade-off.

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