JACKSON HEIGHTS, Queens — A Queens community rallied on Friday to demand safer pedestrian conditions on Northern Boulevard after a 9-year-old boy was struck and killed by a car while crossing the street last week.
“Northern Boulevard is dangerous,” Jackson Heights resident Manny Perez told PIX11. Perez, 65, is visually impaired. “Crossing the street is extremely tricky even with the lights because you have people crossing to the left, crossing to the right,” he said.
Assemblyman Michael Dendekker said he has been pushing for light changes on the boulevard with little resolution. He and Senator Jose Peralta are calling on the Department of Transportation to change the light system along the street to make it safer for pedestrians.
“When you have a green walk sign the corresponding street will give a green signal to a driver….and unfortunately drivers who are supposed to yield to drivers at the crosswalk don’t always do that,” he said.
And because of that, he said, three children have been killed in the last five years while walking across Northern Boulevard.
The most recent was Giovanni Ampuero. The 9-year-old was crossing Northern Boulevard near 70th Street with his mother on April 28 when he was struck by a red Jeep Compass making a left turn onto the street. He suffered severe trauma to his head and torso and was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Ampuero and his mother had the green light to cross. The driver, 86-year-old Juan Jimenez, was arrested on charges including leaving the scene of an accident and failure to yield to a pedestrian.
Days after Ampuero’s death, the DOT implemented a lighting change at the intersection of 70th Street and Northern Boulevard which gives pedestrians a seven second head start, before cars can turn.
“We need more,” Senator Peralta said. “Now is the time that we end all deaths on Northern Boulevard.”