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Funeral planned for LIC hit-and-run victim

By Bill Parry and Christina Santucci

A Richmond Hill family was mourning its patriarch, who police say was mowed down by a hit-and-run driver while crossing the street in Long Island City last Friday night.

Relatives of 64-year-old Kumar Ragunath expected a wake for loved ones to be held Thursday and Friday with a funeral planned for Saturday morning.

“We are waiting for the funeral to finish,” Ragunath’s daughter, Shanaz Pentayah, said Wednesday before the family’s plans to press for any updates in the case.

A spokesman for the NYPD said Wednesday afternoon that no arrests had been made.

Ragunath had been headed to his second day of work as the fire safety director at the Holiday Inn in Queens Plaza when he was struck, relatives said.

“Friday night was his second night,” said Ragunath’s wife, Nazaroon Ragunath, in the family’s home on Kew Gardens Road.

Authorities said Ragunath had been attempting to cross Northern Boulevard from the south to the north side near 40th Road when he was run down at around 10:30 p.m. by a dark-colored vehicle which then fled the scene.

Emergency responders were called to the busy roadway and brought Ragunath, who had suffered severe head trauma and a broken leg, to Elmhurst Hospital, police said.

“They came around at like 4 a.m.” Nazaroon Ragunath said. “That’s when they told us he didn’t make it.”

A father to three and grandfather to six, Ragunath loved watching crime shows, playing cricket and listening to Indian music.

“When it was snow time, he would go out there and clean all of the neighbors’ sidewalks,” his wife said.

He and his wife met in their native Berbice, Guayana, his daughter said.

“I lived in the same village back home,” Nazaroon Ragunath said. “We used to see each other every day because he would pass by my house, and that’s how we knew each other.”

The couple married in 1975 and became parents of two sons and one daughter.

Ragunath adored his grandkids, who are between 6 and 13.

“He was a very, very generous person,” his wife of 39 years said. “Everyone loved him.”

Ragunath had been looking for employment since August and was thrilled to have found the Long Island City job, but even though he would have preferred not to work the overnight shift.

On Ragunath’s first day on the job his supervisor picked him up, and Friday night was the first time he had taken the subway to work, his wife said.

On Sunday morning, Pentayah placed bouquets of flowers and a teddy bear at the intersection where her father was killed. Pentayah said she found a hat in the roadway which she believed belonged to her father.

“He was the most generous man ever,” she said. “He always gives to everyone.”

Family members said they were optimistic that police would find the hit-and-run driver.

“We want whoever hit him to come forward. He didn’t deserve to die like this,” his wife said.

The accident was being investigated by the NYPD’s Highway Patrol Collision Investigative Squad, police said.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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