5-Year-Old Boy Killed in Crown Heights Hit-and-Run, Police Say

By Trevor Kapp and Aidan Gardiner  on March 17, 2014 7:27am

 Roshard Charles, 5, died when Elizabeth Mayard backed into him with her minivan, police said.
Roshard Charles, 5, died when Elizabeth Mayard backed into him with her minivan, police said.
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Composite with DNAinfo/Trevor Kapp and a Facebook/erica.alexander.37604

CROWN HEIGHTS — A 5-year-old boy who loved Spider-Man and the Power Rangers died before his mother's eyes Sunday night when a woman backed into him with her minivan and drove away, police said.

Roshard Charles was with his mom, who was holding Roshard's baby brother in her arms, and another young friend in front of 289 Empire Blvd., near Nostrand Avenue, when he stepped into the path of a woman's 2001 Honda Odyssey about 8:30 p.m., the NYPD said.

The woman behind the wheel, Elizabeth Mayard, 23, ran over the boy and then drove away, police said.

"I was with my baby. He was right here with me. She double parked. She wasn't moving. She was just there. We were already walking, about to go on the sidewalk. And that's when she started reversing really fast," said the boy's grieving mother, Rochelle Charles, 27.

"I said, 'Stop!' I banged on [the van]. She reversed back. She heard me. She looked back. She tried to get him out of the wheel. And then she just drove off," Charles said when she revisited the scene Monday afternoon.

"How could you leave like that?" she said.

In the chaotic aftermath, someone lifted Roshard's body onto a nearby car, witnesses said. Charles banged on the van's windows and then tried in vain to take down Mayard's license plate as she blew through three red lights, she and police said.

Mayard later told authorities that she felt the bump, but fled in a panic when Charles started hitting her window, according to the criminal complaint against her.

"I kept telling her to stop. I banged, I banged, I banged. She should've stopped," Charles said.

"She came back after everybody told her to come back because she hit my son really bad. She came back to say, 'I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to'."

Roshard was pronounced dead at Kings County Hospital, police said. His mother, brother and friend  were not injured, an NYPD spokesman said.

Mayard fled west on Empire Boulevard, but witnesses chased after and convinced her to turn around, a police spokesman said. Mayard was arrested when she returned to the scene, police said.

"She kept saying, 'I think I killed him. I think I killed him. I'm sorry,'" said witness Virginia Woolard, 25. "Everyone was yelling at the driver. She was hysterical."

Roshard's mother was among those screaming at the runaway driver, witnesses said.

The mother told reporters Monday that she can't believe her son is gone.

"I love him so much. I took really good care of him," Charles said.

"Saturday we went to Applebee's. It's just me and him. Last week, we went to the movies." 

Mayard was arraigned Monday on hit-and-run charges, reckless driving and driving through red lights, prosecutors said.

She was being held at Rikers Island on $25,000 bail and bond, jail records showed.

Relatives remembered Rochard as a fun-loving boy.

"He was a fun kid. He was very energetic. He loved TV. He was a big Spider-Man and Power Rangers fan. He liked to watch Netflix," said Nielsen Thomas, 32.

Mayor Bill de Blasio ramped up efforts to improve traffic safety after similar high-profile pedestrian deaths.

Samuel Cohen Eckstein, 12, was fatally struck in October when he chased a soccer ball into the street in Prospect Park. In December, Noshat Nahian, 8, was run over by a tractor-trailer in Woodside.

Cooper Stock, 9, was killed by a taxi on the Upper West Side less than an hour after a 73-year-old was fatally struck just blocks away.

Under the mayor's "Vision Zero" plan, the city would install more speed cameras and boost the number of police officers assigned to the NYPD's highway division.

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