A child who was struck by a curb-jumping motorist near a Maspeth school last Thursday died two days later. Parents this week vented to Council Member Elizabeth Crowley and DOT about unsafe conditions in the area. No charges have been filed against the driver by NYPD or Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, and after immediately declaring the crash an “accident,” Crowley has had nothing to say about the investigation.
Michael Gomez, 13, died at Elmhurst Hospital on Saturday. Reports published in the immediate aftermath of the crash indicated Gomez had a “swollen arm” after he and four other students were struck when Francis Aung Lu drove a Honda SUV onto the sidewalk at Grand Avenue and 71st Street, near Frank Sansivieri Intermediate School.
No official cause of death has been released, but media outlets including the Post and the Daily News cited anonymous sources who said Gomez died from an asthma attack. The Times-Ledger reported yesterday that “a spokeswoman for the city medical examiner could only say that the death at Elmhurst Hospital was being investigated.” Streetsblog has a message in with the medical examiner’s office.
Bajram Kacic, 11, suffered a leg injury from the crash. Angie Peña, 13, was hospitalized in critical condition. Marina Abadir, 14, suffered head trauma, multiple spine fractures, and had surgery on both elbows. Ashley Khan, 13, who with Abadir was pinned under the vehicle, had fractures to her pelvis and legs, among other injuries.
A group of parents met with Crowley and Queens DOT commissioner Dalila Hall on Monday. From the Forum:
The legislator, parents and civic leaders said they would like to see speed limits reduced from about 69th to 80th streets along Grand Avenue — where a city study found about 98 percent of vehicles speed — to accommodate students at IS 73, PS 58 and Maspeth High School.
“Between these three buildings, there’s close to 4,000 students here,” said Joann Berger, the PTA president for IS 73 and president of the Presidents’ Council for District 24. “There are a lot – a lot — of kids walking around here in the morning and afternoon.”
Parents want a DOT “slow zone,” truck restrictions in the hours before school starts, and crossing guards, the Forum reports. “We’re afraid for our children’s lives,” said Maryann Johnson, president of the PTA at PS 58.
Parents said reckless drivers are a major problem near area schools. “It’s not just kids being kids,” said Johnson, as quoted by the Times-Ledger. “It’s drivers being bad drivers.”