Flushing leaders and community members gathered Thursday at the intersection where a 3-year-old boy was killed by a hit-and-run driver to ask for the public to come forward with information that may lead to the identification and arrest of the perpetrator.
The fatal accident occurred at the intersection of College Point Boulevard and 41st Avenue in Flushing, where a driver of a white, four-door 2014 Infiniti Q50 was reversing out of a parking lot onto the road and collided with 3-year-old Quintas Chen, who was crossing the street at around 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 29, according to the NYPD. The toddler was brought to the NewYork-Presbyterian Queens Hospital, where he was pronounced dead about an hour later, the police said.
Authorities are still searching for the driver, who allegedly sped away from the scene and ditched the vehicle at College Point Boulevard and Pople Avenue, four blocks south of the scene of the fatal collision, according to a police spokesman said.
Flushing Assemblymember Ron Kim, who led Thursday’s press conference at the site of the fatal collision, is urging members of the public with any information to come forward.
“I walk this street almost every day. I take my three young daughters to [pre-school] and kindergarten just around the corner. I frequently go to the Dunkin Donuts where the accident happened and I know how dangerous it is,” Kim said. “The vehicles are parked and backing out onto the road every day and it is not a safe sidewalk for families.”
Kim continued, saying that Wednesday night’s tragedy is not an isolated incident and College Point Boulevard has become one of many busy blocks in the city that are not safe for pedestrians and families.
“Vehicles are constantly speeding back and forth and more people are living here and shopping here and more families are visiting this block,” he said. “It’s about time that the city steps up and makes sure we keep our families safe.”
Amy Tam-Liao and Hsi Pei Liao became members of the Families For Safe Streets Organization after they lost their 3-year-old daughter to a traffic-related accident 10 years ago. On Thursday, they spoke about what needs to be done to prevent another family from suffering a similar tragedy.
“It is so difficult to be here today. I know the unimaginable heart ache and I am outraged that another family has to experience what we went through,” Tam-Liao said. “We have the tools to save lives and we need our leaders to have the courage to put them into place. I am tired of excuses and broken promises.”
Peter Tu, the executive director of the Flushing Chinese Business Association, said that he was deeply saddened to learn of Chen’s death.
“This is not the first time an incident like this has occurred and I would like to commend the NYPD for their efforts at trying to identify the driver of the car who caused the accident,” he said.
Danny Harris, the executive of Transportation Alternatives, said he was “heart-broken and angry” to hear the news of Chen’s death.
“Quintas Chen should be home with his family, and we must take steps to ensure that no parent or family ever has to suffer like this,” Harris said. “His loss was preventable. We know how to make our streets safe, especially for our youngest and most vulnerable New Yorkers. Only a month ago, we lost 7-year-old Kamari Hughes to a reckless driver – our city is still grieving, and now it’s forced to mourn another lost child.”
Meanwhile, locals and passersby were shocked and saddened to learn of the fatal incident.
Marta and Jose Velazquez from Brooklyn were in the area visiting their son and said that they found the news deeply upsetting.
“Honestly, this tragedy is very, very sad — especially at this time of year with Christmas around the corner,” Marta Velazquez said. “My thoughts are with his family. We are in disbelief that someone could do something like this and run away.”
An investigation by the NYPD’s Highway District Collision Investigation Squad remains ongoing.