EAST HARLEM — A 6-year-old boy walking to school with his older brother was hit and killed just a block from P.S. 155 William Paca by a massive truck Thursday morning, all while a crossing guard posted to the East Harlem intersection was reportedly in the bathroom, police and a news report said.
Amar Diarrassouba was a few steps ahead of his 10-year-old brother about 7:55 a.m. when the truck made a right turn from East 117th Street onto First Avenue and clipped him, the NYPD said.
The older boy was left standing over Amar, weeping, witnesses reported.
"The boy was bleeding out of his head, bleeding like crazy," said a neighbor who saw the scene but declined to be identified.
"The brother was standing on the sidewalk crying and crying. He had just seen his brother get socked by a truck. The whole thing was terrible. It was tough to watch."
The driver didn't realize he had hit Amar and drove north for about a block until someone flagged him down, cops said.
He remained on the scene and was not expected to be charged, but has been issued a citation for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
"It's been a horrible day," the truck's passenger said, while the driver sat alone in the truck, his head buried in his arms. "Never could have imagined my day would turn out like this."
Police said they do not suspect any criminality.
"Tractor trailers often have to make very wide turns," said a police spokesman at the scene. "It's possible, given the height of the vehicle and the kind of turn he had to make, that he just didn't see the kid."
A crossing guard reportedly assigned to the intersection told 1010 WINS she was on a five-minute break when the collision occurred.
"I was in the personal…. I was in the bathroom," the crossing guard said, her voice cracking with emotion.
1010 WINS did not publish her name, but police announced Thursday night that crossing guard Flavia Roman, 55, had been suspended in connection with the incident pending further investigation.
"Everyday she's here like clockwork and why wouldn't she be?" said an attendant at a gas station at the corner of the busy intersection, who identified himself only as CJ. "It's her job and she's protecting children."
Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito issued a statement following the incident, calling Amar's death a "heartbreaking" and "absolute tragedy."
Her office, she continued, "has been in touch with the local police precinct throughout the day as investigations continue so that we can understand the specifics of what took place and see what action might be needed to prevent a similar horrific accident from occurring in the future. I offer my most sincere condolences to this child's family in this extremely difficult time."
Family members and neighbors described Amar as a "very nice" and "very smart" boy.
"He shared a laugh with everyone," the boy's aunt, Assanatou Assanatou, said. "It's a very sad day."
A neighbor, Barbara Chippotin-Claudia, recalled often seeing Amar and his brother outside with their father, doing homework on a park bench.
"They were always well-dressed," she said. "Very respectful boys. They always say, 'Thank you,' when I hold the door for them."
Amar's mother, Mehichata Diarrassouba, spoke briefly with reporters at her home on East 105th Street.
"He was so smart. He loved everybody," she said. "He was a wonderful boy. Now please just leave us alone and give us some time to grieve."