Alexander Shear
73 years old

“Alex was a true believer in the American dream, the most enthusiastic person I’ve ever known when it came to talking about this creative and nutty country we’ve built over the past 238 years.”

That’s how Jeff Sewald described his old friend, Alex Shear.

Alex was best known as a collector of American pop culture artifacts. The collection he left behind is as large as it is quirky: a guitar made from a ham can, a toaster shaped like a piece of toast, and board games such as “Squeeze the Juice,” in which the object is to capture O.J. Simpson before he escapes to Mexico.

Sewald noted that as interesting as those items are, Alex didn’t love them only as objects. “He loved the people who dreamed-up their concepts and the people who made them,” Sewald said. “He always told me that what he really collected were people.”

Sewald said the when he moved to the city 22 years ago, he became one of the people that Mr. Shear collected. “Alex encouraged me in times of doubt and celebrated my victories,” Sewald recalled. “Alex would have answered his phone at 3 a.m. and driven hundreds of miles to help me if I truly needed him. He was singular.”

This collision happened on January 10, 2014 near Broadway and 96th Street in Manhattan. See details in the Mean Streets Tracker.

Mean Streets 2014: Who We Lost, How They Lived

Throughout 2014, WNYC tracked the 265 men, women and children killed in traffic crashes in New York City. In addition to reporting the circumstances of their deaths, we looked at who they were in life: mothers, fathers, grandparents, students, recent immigrants and native New Yorkers. To read some of their stories, click on a photograph.