QUEENS — The aunt of Miguel Torres — the 11-year-old boy fatally struck by a dump truck on his way to his school in Jackson Heights Friday morning — is calling on the city to bring criminal charges against the driver.
Still reeling from the death of her nephew, who she called “such a wonderful little boy,” Yolanda Ardezzone ripped the NYPD for going easy on the driver of the dump truck, who according to a Friday police statement fled from the scene of the accident at Northern Boulevard and 80th Street.
“They’re just giving him summonses,” Ardezzone said. “I think he should get more than summonses — jail time, so this won't happen to another child.”
A spokeswoman for the NYPD said that although the police originally stated the child was involved in a hit-and-run, police were actually able to track down the driver at the scene.
"It appeared the driver was unaware they struck someone," said the spokeswoman. No criminal charges had been filed by Sunday, but she said the case was still under investigation.
But Ardezzone feels the driver’s punishment needs to send a message to other motorists, since the intersection where the accident occurred is used by hundreds of children on their way to I.S. 145 Joseph Pulitzer School, across the intersection, where Torres was attending a daily kids program over the school break.
Although he had no brothers or sisters, Ardezzone remembers Torres caring deeply for others.
“He always told me I was his favorite aunt,” she said. “My brother had a heart attack not too long ago and all he cared about was how he was doing. He was good to everybody… we’re all devastated.”
High school freshman Lawrence Quirk, 14, said he graduated from I.S. 145 last year. On Saturday afternoon as the snow softly fell, the teen and his mother left flowers and a photo of the boy at a makeshift memorial for Torres.
“It's just horrible to see this,” Quirk said. "I don't know him, but I have a feeling like, I knew him."
Clifford Pace, 37, a neighborhood resident, who started the memorial but doesn't know Torres personally either, set it up near where the accident happened because "nobody else had.”
"Last night I put a sign on a milk crate with a few candles,” Pace said. “After I put the candles there other people started putting candles there. They filled [the milk crate] so I went home and got another milk crate."
Pace said the memorial grew considerably overnight. In addition to candles, stuffed animals and flowers it also included a bottle of Sprite and a Pop Tart, the two items Torres purchased immediately before the accident occurred.
According to several witnesses, Torres’s mother made a brief appearance at the memorial on Saturday. According to Ardezzone, she is sick from grief.
“She's in bed,” she said. “She's screaming. She's really out of it.”
A vigil will be held for Miguel Torres on December 30, at 5 p.m., at 80th Street and Northern Boulevard in Jackson Heights.