16-Year-Old Boy Killed After Van Jumps Curb Near His High School

By Trevor Kapp and Nikhita Venugopal  on March 11, 2013 12:00pm  | Updated on March 11, 2013 5:51pm

LONG ISLAND CITY — A 16-year-old boy was killed and four college students and one other person were injured when a minivan hopped a curb and slammed into them near LaGuardia Community College Monday morning, authorities said.

Tenzin Drudak, 16, a student at Applied Communications High School, inside LaGuardia Community College's building at 30-20 Thomson Ave., was struck and killed when a 2002 Dodge Caravan driving past the school lost control and mounted the sidewalk, police said.

The driver of the minivan, whose name has not been released, was ticketed for driving without insurance, police said. The driver lost control while reaching for a carton of milk, according to news reports.

The minivan was going through the intersection about 10:30 a.m. when it careened off the road, jumped the curb and hit six people, FDNY officials said. Four of those struck were LaGuardia College students, a school spokeswoman said.

Branden Gonzalez, 20, a sophomore at LaGuardia Community College, was crossing the street when the minivan sped through the light and plowed into the people in front of him, he said.

"I looked to my right and saw a car coming around 20 to 30 mph. A light was turning from yellow to red, and everyone stepped forward. Then everything that was in front of me was no longer in front of me," said Gonzalez, who said he watched Tenzin be hit and dragged by the van.

"The van hit him straight on. He landed on the sidewalk. His face was full of blood," said Gonzalez, adding that Tenzin had a gash across his neck and chin. "I ran up to the kid right away. His eyes were closed. But then they opened. I said to him, 'Everything's going to be alright.' But he didn't respond."

Witness Jennifer Dann, 18, a freshman at LaGuardia, said the driver wandered around the scene after the crash.

"The driver was screaming, 'I didn't mean to, I didn't mean to.' He was grabbing his head, walking in circles," Dann said. "He was crying over the guy he struck, saying, 'No, no.' He was trying to touch [Tenzin] but they wouldn't let him."

She said Tenzin lay on the ground, wheezing, and his red shoes had been knocked off by the impact.

Emergency workers put him on a stretcher and tried to resuscitate him with chest compressions, Dann added.

"People were screaming, 'He's dead,'" Dann said.

She said she saw other injured people from the crash stagger to their feet after the incident, including one who was 20 feet away.

One man grabbed onto a lamppost in an attempt to get up, woozy, while another girl was slumped by a fence with her face cut up and her leg bleeding.

"I was flabbergasted," Dann said. "It was panic."

The survivors of the crash were taken to Elmhurst Hospital. Three of the victims were in serious condition and one was in stable condition, FDNY officials said.

One of the people struck refused treatment at the scene, fire officials said.

Applied Communications High School posted a statement about Tenzin's death on the outside of the school and said that they would have a grief counselor available.

"We are all saddened at the sudden loss of one of our wonderful youngsters," the statement said.

Sonam Topgyal, 16, a sophomore who described Tenzin as one of his close friends at Applied Communications High School, said Tenzin was born in Tibet and still had many relatives there.

"He had a lot of friends," Topgyal said. "He liked rap. He liked basketball. He loved sneakers. He was into his style. He was a cool guy."

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