May 2, 2018 By Tara Law
The father of the 9-year-old boy killed by an elderly driver while crossing Northern Boulevard Monday is calling on the city to make the road safer.
Raul Ampuero’s son was struck dead by a Jeep Compass Monday while walking across Northern Boulevard near 70th Street. The boy, Giovanni Ampuero, was pronounced dead at Elmhurst General Hospital and his mother, Karen Manrique, who was walking with him, was left unscathed.
Now Raul Ampuero is asking the city to install more speed cameras, reduce the speed limit on Northern Boulevard and hire more crossing guards. According to Ampuero, the city has prioritized cars and other “material things” over safety for too long.
“Words are not going to heal my pain,” Ampuero said. “This shouldn’t happen to anyone.”
The driver, Juan B. Jimenez, 86, fled the scene after striking Giovanni and was later charged with leaving the scene of an accident, failure to yield to a pedestrian and failure to exercise due care, police say.
Giovanni was the fifth victim under 18 to have been killed on Northern Boulevard in the last six years.
Miguel Torres, 11, was killed by a dump truck as he was crossing 80th street to get to school on Dec. 27, 2012. Olvin Jahir Figueroa, 3, was killed by a drunk driver while walking with his mother across Junction Boulevard on Oct. 12, 2013. Noshat Nahian, 8, was killed while walking with his 11-year-old sister near 61st street on Dec. 20, 2013. And Ovidio Jaramillo, 17, was killed near Junction Boulevard while walking home from a funeral on Dec. 9, 2015.
It is Ampuero’s goal to make sure that Giovanni is the last child to die this way on Northern Boulevard.
Ampuero wants to meet with the mayor to discuss the importance of making the streets safer and make him aware of the gravity of his loss.
He remembers Giovanni as a gentle boy who loved his older brothers— Giancarlo, 14, and Johnathon, 20— and had a “special gift” for making babies happy.
“I’m proud to be his dad, and I’m proud that God gave him to me for nine years,” Ampuero said.
Ampuero plans to attend a vigil from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. this Saturday in front of I.S. 230, 74-10 34th Ave, which is is intended to honor Giovanni and to draw attention to the dangers of Northern Boulevard
The event is being hosted by street safety organizations Make Queens Safer, Families for Safe Streets and Transportation Alternatives’ Queens Volunteer Committee.
“It was a preventable death,” said Cristina Furlong, co-founder of Make Queens Safer and a Jackson Heights resident. “It’s such a horrible slap in the face to people who are working for safe streets.”
While Queens Boulevard, the notoriously dangerous “Boulevard of Death,” has become safer since the implementation of Vision Zero, Northern Boulevard has continued to claim lives, Furlong said.
“It’s the new ‘Boulevard of Death,’” Furlong said. “You would think people would’ve gotten the message by now.”
Now, Furlong is renewing her call for the city to install more speed cameras along Northern Boulevard and to bring the street up to the Vision Zero Design Standard— a set of guidelines designed to maximize street safety. It is time to end the city’s “piecemeal reaction to tragedy,” said Furlong.
Furlong feels a special sense of urgency because she is the mother of her own 9-year-old son. Although Furlong speaks to him frequently about street safety, she feels that it is impossible to protect him completely from dangerous drivers.
“There’s not much I can do to protect him from a reckless driver, except to make him hyper vigilant,” said Furlong.
A fundraiser has also been set up by Michelle Rhee, a friend of Giovanni’s mother, to cover the family’s funeral and other expenses. The fundraiser has collected 101 donations worth a total of $7,590.
I pick up my daughter from school everyday and I make a left turn on to 70th street from Northern Blvd. I wait for the green arrow so I can turn but the cars behind me don’t care they are beeping and cursing at me to run the light. Well I can care less what they say I will not turn unless that green arrow gives me the right away. These drivers think its funny to rush and drive like idiots. They have no idea that if they make that fast turn and eat that light someone can be crossing at that very moment. I hope one of them idiots cursing and beeping at people to run the light is reading this. THINK ABOUT OTHERS!
The problem is not the speed. We already have 25mph limit which is super slow. The problem is that old head was 86 and probably did not see properly anymore. Both of my grandfathers did not even make it to 86 before they passed away. And here we have a dude driving…. anyone after 65 should undergo medical exams every 2-3 years to determine they are still capable of seeing and driving safely! Reflexes for 86 year old are not the same as 26 year old
Add more speed bumps, not cameras. I guarantee you speedbumps will slow down every car that drives over it. Cameras will not do that. A roadguard will but at a cost of someone’s life. A speed bump will force the driver to hit the brakes.
NYC is turning into a shithole. Driving is at an all-time low. I’ve never seen so many people blow red lights, not stop at all, or pass you on the driver side as of recent. Bunch of fucking assholes driving. Please be aware, and stay safe.
Sam Schwartz Engineering has a service that provides Pedestrian Safety Managers all throughout the city. I have seen them on city corners especially downtown by the Holland Tunnel where there is a heavy flow of traffic and pedestrian traffic. This is something that the area should look into for crossing guards and safety.
74th street to
82nd street is
also a problem.
Save Jackson Hts
The Mayor, Senator Jose Peralta , Council member Daniel Dromm and Julissa Ferreras should be walking the streets during rush hour to see how many cars , pedestrians are out . There should be more NYPD and or Traffic Agents during these hours and also during school hours.
I hope Senator Peralta is paying attention to the ongoing problem with these reckless motorists.
Queens Council Members:
Daniel Dromm & Julissa Ferreras Copeland should also be more proactive.
Vision Zero works only if it is enforced by the proper agencies – NYPD,DOT,DMV, & Traffic Enforcement.