BEDFORD STUYVESANT — Hundreds of mourners gathered Thursday at Union Baptist Church for the funeral of Yakim McDaniels, the 12-year-old boy who was crushed to death by a rolldown gate in the parking lot next to the building where he lived.
Relatives and friends solemnly carried the silver casket containing McDaniels' body from the church to the hearse following an emotional 1 1/2-hour service attended by his mother, Doris Chase, his brothers and sisters, and City Councilman Charles Barron, who has advocated for the family following the tragic May 6 incident.
McDaniels and a group of friends were playing a game of "chicken" while riding up a rolling metal gate in a parking lot near his Brownsville home at 230 Lott Ave. when his arm became trapped in the enclosure and he was crushed to death, police said.
Chase dressed in all white for the funeral, and looked emotionally drained as she followed the casket down the stairs of the church.
"We’re always going to be there for each other," McDaniels’ uncle, Leroy Cousar, 55, of Bedford-Stuyvesant, said outside of the Decatur Street church. "We all fall down; it’s how you get up."
McDaniels' friends, who wore a laminated photo of him tied with a pink ribbon, huddled together in small groups and said they wished they could have prevented the tragedy.
"Yeah, I wish I could have been there and just have stopped it all," said Emmanuell Theophilous, 15, of Brownsville.
"He was like my little brother; we even had the same birthday," Theophilous added, noting the date, June 14. "I used to call him my twin."
Latrell Elmore, Yakim's stepmother, said she hoped McDaniels' death would help spark the city to put a safer place for school-age children to play.
"You need something right there in the yard where they can play," Elmore said. "Children that age don’t know any better."