Relatives of Richmond Hill man killed in LIC hit-and-run hope driver is found

By Bill Parry and Christina Santucci

A Richmond Hill man fatally mowed down by a hit-and-run driver while crossing the street in Long Island City Friday night had been headed to his second day of work, police and heartbroken relatives said.

Kumar Ragunath, 64, had just started as the fire safety director at the Holiday Inn in Queens Plaza.

“Friday night was his second night,” said Ragunath’s wife, Nazaroon Ragunath in the family’s Richmond Hill home.

Authorities said Ragunath had been attempting to cross Northern Boulevard from the south to the north side near 40th Road when he was struck 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 64-year-old 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 and playing cricket.

Ragunath adored his grandkids, who are between the ages of 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 train to work, his wife said.

On Sunday morning, Ragunath’s daughter, Shanaz Pentayah, placed bouquets of flowers 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.

Nazaroon Ragunath said the family would hold a Hindu funeral once an autopsy was complete.

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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