By Shawn King and Christina Santucci
A 19-year-old Jackson Heights resident killed in a hit-and-run crash dreamed of one day joining the law enforcement ranks, but now his family is hoping authorities find the driver of a dark-colored sedan who struck the teen and drove off.
“Saturday was my brother, next time it could be anyone else,” said Luis Bravo’s 12-year-old sister Sarah.
Bravo was found by emergency responders at Broadway and 58th Street in Woodside just after 11 p.m. Saturday and brought to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.
Cops believe the teen was walking eastbound on Broadway when he was hit by a dark-colored vehicle, which fled, authorities said.
No one was immediately arrested after Bravo’s death and the investigation was ongoing, the NYPD said.
Bravo’s relatives said the New York City College of Technology student envisioned his future career as working for the FBI.
“He wanted to be a police officer,” Bravo’s younger sister Sarah said, explaining that her brother believed entering the NYPD was a pathway to the federal agency.
Bravo’s other interests included acting, singing, playing basketball and taking care of the family dog, Rocky.
He delivered food his mother made so that the family could earn extra money after his father was deported back to Ecuador and helped his sister with her homework.
“He was like a dad to me,” Sarah said.
His mother, Martha Puruncajas, who was treated for breast cancer 10 years ago and has since been diagnosed cancer-free, relied on her son to take care of the family.
“I think that’s why God took him away, because he was a good guy,” Puruncajas said in Spanish as Sarah translated.
On Saturday night, Puruncajas saw her son doing homework several hours before he was killed.
“She doesn’t believe in three hours she lost her son,” Sarah said of her mother.
Three days after the fatal crash, City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) called on the city Department of Transportation to slow traffic in the area and said four pedestrians have lost their lives in the past three months within his district, which includes Long Island City and Sunnyside.
“We are sick and tired of asking for the DOT to do the right thing and protect the people of this city,” said state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), who joined Van Bramer, state Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (D-Maspeth) and Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, at the news conference Tuesday afternoon.
The Rev. Joshua Hollmann, of Christ Church and Child Center, asked two years ago that a speed bump be installed on 58th Street in front of the 130-student school he runs, and in March 2012 community residents, including Ed Surmenian, requested that the DOT examine the timing of traffic lights on Broadway between 69th Street and Northern Boulevard.
A spokesman for the agency said no changes were recommended along Broadway at the time and the speed bump request did not meet agency guidelines.
But the DOT now plans to take another look at conditions on the Broadway corridor to assess signal timing and intersection controls and will examine whether it is feasible to put in traffic calming measures, the spokesman said.
“What is surprising to me is this tragedy didn’t happen a long time ago,” said Surimenian, who described Broadway as the Autobahn.
White called on the NYPD to increase enforcement of laws against speeding and reckless driving and for tougher penalties for leaving the scene of an accident.
“There is a perverse incentive for drunk drivers to leave the scene if they have been drinking; we do not know if that was the case in this particular instance,” he said of Bravo’s death.
Puruncajas hopes that police can eventually find the hit-and-run driver, her daughter said, but the family was focused Tuesday on trying to raise money to transport Bravo’s cremated remains to Ecuador. They have set up a Citibank account #4981553013 for donations from loved ones.
Reach Managing Editor Christina Santucci by phone at 718-260-4589 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.