Grieving Chinatown Families to Morgenthau: We’re Not Going Away

ctown3.jpgRelatives of Hayley Ng and Diego Martinez, two preschoolers struck and killed by a van in Chinatown on January 22, continue to demand justice from Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau.

On WCBS television this week, Hayley's aunt, Wendy Cheung, reiterated both families' call for citizens to contact Morgenthau's office and demand further action in the case. The driver, who left the van running and in reverse before it hit Hayley and Diego, currently faces no charges.

"We [are] pleading for everybody to call the DA's office ... and make a statement," Cheung said. "Tell them 'You can't forget this. We need to investigate this.'"

As has been pointed out by a Streetsblog commenter, Morgenthau last month brought charges against crane operators whose negligence, the DA's office contends, caused the deaths of seven people. On January 5, William Rapetti and his company were indicted on multiple charges of manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide and assault, stemming from a crane collapse last March.

According to New York State penal code section 125.10, "A person is guilty of criminally negligent homicide when, with criminal negligence, he causes the death of another person." State code defines "criminal negligence" as follows:

A person acts with criminal negligence with respect to a result or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense when he fails to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that such result will occur or that such circumstance exists.  The risk must be of such nature and degree that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.

Said Jon Adler, a family friend and head of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, to WCBS: "The China Chalet driver made a conscious decision to double-park a 9,000 pound vehicle with the engine on. Even if it's a misdemeanor, [the DA should pursue] something to charge this man [with] for making that decision to leave that vehicle on."

Asked about the status of the case, a spokesperson for Morgenthau's office told Streetsblog, "There is an ongoing investigation and beyond that I can not comment."

The spokesperson would not say whether the DA has been getting calls from the public about Hayley and Diego.