WOODSIDE, Queens (PIX11) – The death of a third grader as he crossed the street to school on the last day of classes has raised a call for at least one change to pedestrian safety in his neighborhood. The proposed change could be part of a citywide emphasis on keeping pedestrians safer.
“[The] boy fell off in the street,” said Afsana Arzu, an eyewitness to the 8:00 A.M. incident. “His sister was screaming and I [was] also crying.”
The boy, Noshat Nahian, 8, was crossing Northern Boulevard, a six-lane roadway, at 61st Street, when an 18-wheeler turning in to the intersection ran over the boy with one of its rear wheels.
“He was just laying there on the floor,” said Ray Rizwan, who’d been on the sidewalk at the scene when it happened. “His face was smashed in and blood was coming out from the back of his head. And he wasn’t breathing at all. His eyes was turned in.”
The eyewitness descriptions of what happened as the boy tried to make the last few dozen steps before the P.S. 152 campus were brutal. Nahian had been walking across the boulevard with his 11 year-old sister when the tragedy took place.
The boy had been carrying a red gift bag and holiday card, apparently as a holiday gift for a faculty member of his school. Both seasonal items lay in the road as crime scene investigators worked the scene.
A vice principal and teacher were standing nearby when the crash happened, and they rushed to the boy’s aid. It was too late, however.
“I asked the teacher, ‘Is he breathing?'” said eyewitness Rizwan. “The teacher said, ‘No.’ That’s when they called 911.”
The driver of the truck, Mauricio Osorio-Palominos, 51, was arrested at the scene and charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, and operating a vehicle in violation of safety rules.
However, witnesses to the crash said there’s also another problem. “Today, if there was a guard, this wouldn’t happen,’ said one woman who did not give her name, but she said she’d seen the incident. She was referring to crossing guards.
There’s a crossing guard at three of the four intersections that surround the school. However, at one of the corners, the one at which Nahian and his sister were crossing, there is no guard.
That intersection, on 61st Street and Northern Boulevard, is on the north side of the school, which takes up most of a block bordered by Northern Boulevard, 61st St., 62nd St. and 34th Avenue. The intersections on 34th Avenue have a lower volume of traffic because the avenue has just two lanes of traffic, compared to Northern Boulevard’s six.
Still, at one of the two Northern Boulevard intersections, there is no guard.
“We need a crossing guard here,” said one parent at the unguarded intersection, “But nobody cared. Now they should care.”
“I was crying,” said Rupinder Kaur, a friend of the boy’s family, describing her reaction when she heard the news. She confirmed that Noshat Nahian’s family had moved to the U.S. from Bangladesh four months ago. Kaur’s family rented the basement apartment to the boys’ parents to help them establish themselves in their new country. “I was, like, shocked,” said Kaur, about hearing that the boy she would see daily was dead.
“It’s very, very sad,” said Kaur’s husband, Palwinder Thethi. “That’s no good.”
Agreeing with him, apparently, is the incoming police commissioner, Bill Bratton. He has pledged to implement what Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio calls his “Vision Zero” pedestrian safety policy. It aims, Bratton has said, to build on many Bloomberg Administration pedestrian safety initiatives, such as pedestrian plazas and bike lanes.
Whether or not that will include having more crossing guards at busy intersections, like the one at which Noshat Nahian was killed, remains to be seen after the new administration takes office after the first of the year.
Meanwhile, the NYPD released a statement Friday evening saying, in part, “the precinct commander [of the 114th precinct, where the incident took place] and school administrators are meeting to reassess the need for a guard at that location.”