JH Community Mourns Boy’s Death
By MEGAN MONTALVO
Miguel Torres’ mother, pictured here, weeps at a vigil held for her deceased son as local community members comfort her. Photo by Megan Montalvo.
Two days after 11-year-old Miguel Torres was struck and killed by a dump truck on the corner of 80th Street and Northern Boulevard in East Elmhurst, a large group of local residents held a prayer vigil at the site to pay tribute to a life gone too soon.
Joined by a priest from St. Joan of Arc Parish, where the boy is said to have attended, the vigil was organized by a group of concerned Jackson Heights parents who sought to raise awareness of an intersection that has been plagued with speeding drivers.
“He was my only child,” the boy’s mother said, in Spanish, as she collapsed to the floor in tears. “Why did this have to happen? I don’t want to live.”
According to police reports, at about 8:45a.m. on Friday, Torres was struck by the rear wheels of the dump truck while attempting to cross Northern Boulevard to attend a winter break kids program at I.S. 145.
Moments before being hit, the boy was seen exiting the N&K Smart Mart on 80th Street, where he purchased a Sprite and Pop-Tart – two items that were left in remembrance at the vigil.
“No one can understand the pain a mother feels when she loses her child,” said Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), who was also in attendance. “I live nearby and have personally witnessed people speeding in the area. This is a tragic reminder that as drivers, we have an obligation to exercise caution for pedestrians.”
Although the NYPD had originally called the incident a hit-and-run, it was later revealed by a spokesperson that the driver may have been unaware that the child was struck.
According to 16-year-old Armando Molina, who lives in the apartment building overlooking the intersection, the boy’s body had laid in the street for several minutes before he received emergency assistance.
“At first I wasn’t sure if he was dead, but he wasn’t moving,” Molina said. “I had never seen a dead body before, and I really couldn’t believe that something like this could happen. It was pretty traumatizing.”
Despite not knowing the victim, Molina said that he felt the need to attend the vigil with his older sister Cindy and mother Magdalena because he sympathized with the family.
“I wish there was something I could have done,” he said. “I’ll never forget seeing him there lying helpless in the street.”
While there have been no criminal charges filed against the driver, the NYPD is still conducting an investigation into the case.
Torres’ death joins two similar accidents to occur in Queens last week.
On Dec. 26, 30-year-old Meria Beria and 38-year-old Sheena Mathew were struck and killed by cars within one hour of each other.
Mathew was hit by a car while crossing Hillside Avenue and Little Neck Parkway in Floral Park and Beria was hit at 111th Avenue near 147th Street in South Jamaica.
“As a parent, I know that no one ever imagines that they will have to attend their own child’s funeral,” said State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst). “As we can see from this vigil, one child’s death affects an entire community.”
Within the coming weeks, Dromm and Peralta said they look forward to the implementation of a slow zone that the Dept. of Transportation has recently approved for 25th Avenue in Jackson Heights.
“It may not stop everyone from speeding, but it’s a start,” Dromm said.
Reach Reporter Megan Montalvo at (718) 357-7400 Ext. 128 or firstname.lastname@example.org.