Student dies in hospital after Maspeth car crash

Student dies in hospital after Maspeth car crash
Photo by Ellis Kaplan
By Bianca Fortis

A 13-year-old boy who suffered minor injuries in a horrific Maspeth car accident last week when an SUV jumped the curb and struck five students died Saturday, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

Some media outlets reported that the boy, Michael Gomez, died of an asthma attack, but a spokeswoman for the city medical examiner could only say that the death at Elmhurst Hospital was being investigated.

A spokeswoman for the hospital said the boy who died was being treated for minor injuries. The hospital had no comment on the circumstances surrounding his death.

A 40-year-old driver was attempting to park his SUV in front of a deli at the corner of Grand and 71st streets last Thursday, the NYPD said. The driver accidentally hit the gas pedal instead of the brake pedal, police said. The driver jumped the curb onto the sidewalk and rammed into several IS 73 students before finally hitting the wall of the deli, according to police.

Three girls and two boys were injured, some more seriously than others, and taken to the hospital, police said.

The driver stayed at the scene and no charges have been filed, police said.

A group of parents whose children attend the nearby schools gathered near the accident site Monday to meet with City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) and Dalila Hall, the Queens commissioner for the city Department of Transportation.

The parents complained about a lack of traffic lights and clear signage in the area as well as drivers who speed. They also said parents double- or triple-park while picking up or dropping off children.

“It’s not just kids being kids,” Maryann Johnson, the PTA president of PS 58, said. “It’s drivers being bad drivers.”

Johnson said drivers need to be aware that there are three schools — PS 53, IS 73 and Maspeth High School — within six blocks.

Parents described a “sea of kids” that floods the neighborhood in the morning and afternoons when children are on their way to and from school.

“The rules need to be enforced,” Johnson said. “Drivers should slow down and be more respectful.”

She said children in the local schools participate in a classroom education program offered through the American Automobile Association. Students learn about the importance of wearing seatbelts and safely crossing the street.

“We need something similar for parents,” she said.

Hall said she met with the parents to listen to their concerns. She said she would bring their concerns back to engineers at the DOT to implement traffic-calming measures. While some changes are long-term projects, she said some may be implemented as early as this fall.

Crowley said it was important to bring parents into the discussion about traffic safety because they travel those streets every day.

“They are the ones who see what happens,” she said.

One goal of hers, she said, was to turn the six-block span into a slow zone.

She said it was fortunate that the students involved in the accident last Thursday had not suffered life-threatening injuries.

“But we don’t want to wait for another serious accident before something is done,” she said.

Reach reporter Bianca Fortis by email at bfortis@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.