The unidentified 6-year-old boy was chasing a ball while riding a kick scooter when a white 15-passenger van struck him, knocking him to the ground and then rolled over his leg by the park entrance at West 113th Street and Manhattan Avenue about 4 p.m., according to Parks officials and a 13-year-old witness.
Children playing in the park looked on in horror.
"I was scared," said the teen who witnessed the accident. "When the boy got hit he rolled under the wheel. It looked like the person in the van didn't know how to drive."
He said the van did not appear to be going fast.
After the accident, the Parks Department employee jumped out of the van and appeared distraught, according to the witness, who is in 8th grade.
"When his father saw that the boy got hit, he yelled 'Oh, my God.' And he came running to his son," the teen said.
The injured boy struggled to stand up, but couldn't, the witness said. He was taken to Harlem Hospital, where he was in serious condition.
"He hurts and he wants to go home," the boy's cousin, Chris Salcedo, said later Tuesday.
The Parks Department said the accident is under investigation.
"This feels like an unsafe place when you have to worry about your kids getting hit inside the park," said Jessica Williams, 26, a bartender and student who was in the park.
Drew Bratton, a financial consultant who was in Morningside Park Tuesday with her 5-year-old, Bryce Spann, said she was nearly struck by a Parks Department pickup truck while jogging about a month ago.
After the accident, Bryce turned to his mother and said, "I'm worried that I'm going to get hit by a car."
Bratton said she questions why vehicles are allowed in the park.
"The Parks Department should take precautions to make sure that it's safe inside the park," Bratton said. "This is a family park, parents just let their kids run around. I don't think cars should be in the park."