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Van jumps curb near LaGuardia CC, killing teen – QNS.com

Van jumps curb near LaGuardia CC, killing teen

By Rebecca Henely

A teenage boy was killed Monday after the driver of a minivan lost control and hit five people on the sidewalk near LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, the NYPD said.

Police identified the teen who died as 16-year-old Drudak Tenzin. The four other people struck in the collision have been listed in stable condition at Elmhurst Hospital Center, police said.

“It’s just real messed up is the only way to describe it,” said 21-year-old LaGuardia Community College student Jason Martinez, who witnessed the accident. “Because it could have been anyone, it could have been me.”

The NYPD had not announced any arrests as of early Monday afternoon.

Police said the driver of the 2002 maroon Dodge Caravan had been going eastbound on Thompson Avenue at 10:30 a.m. when he hit the five pedestrians, who were standing near the intersection of Thomson Avenue and 30th Street or Skillman Avenue.

The vehicle struck a pole with a sign for the Q39 bus and came to a stop at a tree. The front of the car was crumpled in the crash and the windshield cracked over the passenger side of the minivan.

“He’s still alive and he came out screaming, ‘I’m sorry! I’m sorry!’” LaGuardia student Ahmed Abdelghani, 26, said of the driver.

Abdelghani said he believed the motorist was trying to turn from Thomson Avenue onto Skillman Avenue. He said the intersection is a hot spot for pedestrians, since it is a stop for the Q39 bus and across from LaGuardia Community College’s B building at 30-20 Thomson Ave., which includes several schools.

The pedestrians, including Drudak, were taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center, police said. Drudak was later pronounced dead at the hospital, police said.

Drudak attended Applied Communications High School, which is in the B building at 30-20 Thomson Ave., a spokeswoman from the city Department of Education said in an e-mail.

“We are arranging for a crisis team to offer counseling to students and staff at the school,” the spokeswoman said.

Police cordoned off the area around the accident Monday morning and shut down westbound traffic on Thomson Avenue from Van Dam Street to Skillman Avenue. Several LaGuardia students watched while 108th Precinct and School Safety officers investigated the scene.

A few witnesses said those hit by the Caravan looked young and that they believed they were also students at the college.

“I put myself in the same situation,” said Abdelghani. “It would be like a nightmare to me.”

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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