Peter Sarsgaard Once Saw a Man Die on the Street in Brooklyn: I’m ‘Frequently a First Responder to Bicycle Accidents’

The “Memory” actor says he walks around town with his head up so he’s more likely to be ready, as 26 cyclists have been killed in New York City this year

Peter Sarsgaard (Credit: Getty Images)

“Memory” star Peter Sarsgaard has seen a lot in his 52 years, but his experience as a street-loving Brooklyn resident has accounted for an outsized portion.

Sarsgaard, in an interview on the “WTF With Marc Maron” podcast, recalled a time when he saw a cyclist killed in the New York City borough.

“My family knows that I’m frequently a first responder to bicycle accidents in Brooklyn, of which we have so many,” Sarsgaard said.

Maron wondered whether it was due to texting drivers but Sarsgaard went straight to the point.

“I saw a guy die in Brooklyn. I was the first responder there,” Sarsgaard said, adding that he put his coat over the victim.

“I saw a guy — a fireman smoking a joint riding his bike,” Sarsgaard continued. “I was like, ‘That guy is smoking a joint while riding his bike down a very — boom! — goes off the bike, massive head injury, you know. I don’t know why I’m …”

“Are you listed as a first responder for specifically bike accidents?” Maron asked jokingly. “Or you’re just there?”

“I only know what to do from a little bit of Boy Scouts,” Sarsgaard said.

“Why does it happen with bike accidents?” Maron repeated. “You just happen to be around?”

“Here’s the thing,” Sarsgaard replied. “I don’t look at my phone very much when I’m walking around. And everybody else is texting, and I don’t think people are looking at each other. So maybe my head is up. You know, that might be it.”

Whatever the reason for Sarsgaard’s frequency of involvement, the problem is ongoing in New York City. According to the NYC Crash Mapper, 26 cyclists have been killed in the city in 2023, an increase from 2022 and 2021, years in which 19 cyclists died. In 2020, 29 cyclists were killed, while 31 died in 2019.

“I just click into a different mode,” Sarsgaard said of how he reacts to crisis situations when as Maron put it, “there’s more at stake than inconvenience.”

New York City councilman Lincoln Restler last month urged that a network of bike lanes be added after a dump truck hit a bicycle carrying two riders at a busy downtown Brooklyn intersection.

“I think a lot of people are like Mr. Magoo in the world these days,” Sarsgaard said of the cartoon character made popular in the 1950s and ’60s. “And there’s just like all sorts of crazy shit happening behind them that they’re not even aware of.”

Listen to the rest of the podcast episode here.

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