MANHATTAN — The father of a 6-year-old boy who was run over by a Parks Department van in Morningside Park thinks the accident could have been avoided.
“It could’ve been prevented because it’s a park full of kids and she had a full view,” Franklin Jimenez said. “She obviously didn’t look that way, she didn’t see him coming and she didn’t stop.”
His son, Joram Jimenez, was struck Tuesday afternoon by a 15-passenger van as the boy rode a black scooter down a slope near the 113th Street entrance. A Parks Department van, driven by Razina Benedict, was going about 5 to 10 mph when it hit the boy, Jimenez said.
Both of the front and rear driver-side tires ran over the boy’s legs but the driver did not stop until another witness alerted her of the crash, he added.
Parks Department vans are required have their emergency flashers on and drive less than 5 mph, Parks Department spokesman Arthur Pincus said.
Benedict was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing by police, and Pincus said drug and alcohol were not a factor in the crash. She has no prior disciplinary history with the department, he said.
Parks personnel are still investigating the incident but don't believe speed was a factor, Pincus said.
The boy's father was still shaken by the mishap.
“It’s a miracle of God because there were no fractures in any of his bones,” he said. “They ran over both his legs.”
Despite the small miracle, Joram did not escape uninjured.
“His left knee sort of exploded because of the pressure from the tires,” said his father, who spend the night at Harlem Hospital with his son.
Representatives from the Parks Department, including Manhattan Borough Commissioner William Castro, visited the Jimenez family at Harlem Hospital.
Jimenez appreciated their visit.
“Yesterday a bunch of people said they felt sympathetic for what happened,” he said. “I said thank you [to Castro], I wasn’t expecting to see anybody. He was apologetic.”
Joram was recovering well but is still unable to put pressure on his leg. Jimenez is a superintendent for a residential building at Columbia University and said his health insurance should cover the medical costs.
The father and son live a few blocks away from Morningside Park.
Before riding down the hill, Jimenez let go of Joram’s hand. The father is aware that his son could have fallen over or scraped a knee but he never thought something like this would happen.
“It happened in a flash,” he said. “The last thing I expected was that he was going to get hit by a van in a park.”