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Calls for Safety Improvements on Queens Street Where 16-Year-Old Was Killed

LONG ISLAND CITY — A group of officials and transportation advocates gathered Thursday to call for improved safety conditions on a busy Queens street near LaGuardia Community College where a 16-year-old boy was killed Monday after being struck by a minivan. 

Tenzin Drudak, 16, a student at Applied Communications High School inside LaGuardia Community College's building at 30-20 Thomson Ave., died after being hit by a 2002 Dodge Caravan that lost control and mounted the sidewalk, police said. Five others were struck, including four LaGuardia students.

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents the area, called Thomson Avenue "ticking time bomb" for accidents due to the thousands of students, workers and other residents who use it daily.

"No one should fear for their lives while they walk down our city’s streets,” Van Bramer said in a statement.

He called on the city's Department of Transportation to do a comprehensive traffic study of the area around the school — near the intersection of Thomson and Skillman avenues and 30th Street — and to make other safety improvements, like posting additional traffic agents on the street.

"This tragedy highlights the dangerous conditions on Thomson Avenue and the surrounding streets," Dr. Gail O. Mellow, president of LaGuardia Community College, said in a statement. "What our students, faculty, staff, and visitors face every day is unacceptable."

The driver of the minivan was issued a summons for driving an uninsured vehicle, a police spokesman for the NYPD said, though he would not confirm the driver's name.The New York Times and other outlets identified the driver as Mohamed Keita, and other news reports said he lost control of the car after reaching for a carton of milk. 

A spokeswoman for the Queens District Attorney's office said the case is under investigation but that no charges have been brought.

According to a DOT spokesman, the city was already working with LaGuardia Community College to improve pedestrian safety around the school, including the consideration of installing sidewalk extensions at the intersection of Thomson Avenue and 30th Street, where the accident occurred.

Monday's accident is the first traffic fatality at the intersection in the past decade, the spokesman said.

Tenzin was a popular student originally from Tibet, a friend told DNAinfo.com on Monday.

"He had a lot of friends," said Sonam Topgyal, 16, a sophomore at Applied Communications High School. "He liked rap. He liked basketball. He loved sneakers. He was into his style. He was a cool guy."