By Christian DeFiris
I was at the northwest corner of Northern Boulevard crosswalk heading south at 209th Street, half a block west from Staples Office supplies waiting for the light to cross the street.
Looking east at the oncoming traffic, I noticed a small Asian boy getting ready to cross 209th from the other side. The boy had the signal to walk, but cars make the right off Northern Blvd sometimes without looking, which was the case today. A fast-moving white van was getting ready to make the turn, but could not see the child getting ready to cross.
I yelled loudly and put my hand out for it to stop. I also yelled for the little boy to stop. The boy had the signal to cross, but was just looking forward and not to the left side where he should have been looking. I yelled to the little boy — who was still across the street, standing stunned — and told him to “look both ways even when you have the light!” The boy was frozen, and the van’s driver, knowing he nearly killed a child, sped away.
I gave the boy the signal to cross and when he got to where I was, I told him he was too short and too young to be walking home unescorted. I told him vans and trucks can’t see him. The boy thanked me and, actually to my surprise, said “there should be more people like you in the world.”
I said “thank you,” again told him to be careful, and I proceeded across Northern Boulevard a bit shaken, knowing what would have happened had I not been there. The boy continued on walking west on Northern, heading home, I assume.
Had I not been at that exact spot at that exact time, I am 100 percent certain that child would have been struck by that van. I called the 111th Precinct later on at 9:22 p.m. to report the incident because I feel there should be a sign warning people not to make that turn when the light is red. When I called the 111th, a woman answered. I told her the story and she showed no emotion or concern at all. This is not the first time I reported dangerous situations to the 111th to get this type of reaction, which is usually one of complete disinterest. Most of the time, sadly, nothing is done. There needs to be more traffic signs on Northern Boulevard and better police monitoring and traffic enforcement.
Also when police see a small child walking alone, there should be some kind of inquiry.
My half-sister, Samantha Defiris, was killed on May 10, 1982, crossing York Avenue in Manhattan. She was only 13 years old.
Northern Boulevard is dangerous and it needs to be made much safer.