86-Year-Old Driver Kills Giovanni Ampuero, 9, in Queens Crosswalk

Motorists have killed five children walking or biking on NYC streets this year, compared to one such fatality in the first four months of 2017.

Scene of the crash that killed Giovanni Ampuero. Video still: WABC
Scene of the crash that killed Giovanni Ampuero. Video still: WABC

An 86-year-old man hit a woman and her son with an SUV in a Queens crosswalk on Saturday, killing 9-year-old Giovanni Ampuero. The driver fled the scene.

Motorists have killed five children who were walking or biking on NYC streets so far this year, compared to one such fatality in the first four months of 2017.

Giovanni Ampuero
Giovanni Ampuero

Juan Jimenez was turning left from 70th Street onto Northern Boulevard at around 1:20 p.m. and struck Giovanni and his mother, Karen Manrique. Jimenez continued driving until he was stopped 10 blocks away by a cab driver who witnessed the crash, the Daily News reported.

The victims were conscious at the scene. Giovanni sustained trauma to his head and body and died at Elmhurst Hospital.

According to court records, NYPD and Queens District Attorney Richard Brown charged Jimenez with felony leaving the scene, misdemeanor failure to yield, and failure to exercise due care, which is a traffic infraction.

“I was driving home to Manhattan from the casino,” Jimenez told investigators. “I made a left turn on Northern Blvd. … [W]hen I made the turn a woman jumped in front of my car but I did not hit her. I kept driving and a cab driver waved me down and told me I hit someone.”

“It was an accident,” Jimenez said. “I didn’t mean to hit anyone. I didn’t know I hit anyone.”

If Jimenez was incapable of seeing two people crossing the street on a dry, clear day, why was he driving in the first place?

It’s up to the state Department of Motor Vehicles to decide who is fit to operate a motor vehicle, but the DMV sets no age limit on driving, and leaves it to individuals and their families to determine when it’s no longer safe for someone to drive. An 86-year-old can renew his license online or by mail, the same as a driver who is 50 or 60 years younger.

The car Jimenez was driving has several tickets attached to it, including one for speeding in a school zone. But camera tickets don’t add points to a driver’s license, and by themselves would not trigger the DMV to review Jimenez’s behavior behind the wheel.

Juan Jimenez was held on $20,000 bond, court records say. His next court appearance is scheduled for May 11.

Hours after Giovanni and his mother were struck, a hit-and-run driver killed an unidentified man walking at 153rd Street and Hillside Avenue in Briarwood. The perpetrator was not immediately caught or identified.

Giovanni Ampuero was killed in the 115th Precinct — where motorists have taken the lives of four other children since 2012, according to crash data tracked by Streetsblog — and in the City Council district represented by Danny Dromm.

  • AstoriaBlowin

    Regarding 2nd degree manslaughter in NY State:
    According to Section 15.05 of the Penal Code, a person acts “recklessly” with respect to a result or circumstance when he or she is “aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that such result will occur or that such circumstance exists.” The risk that the person creates must be of such nature or magnitude that his or her disregard of it constitutes a “gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.”

    Unfortunately in this situation there is no gross deviation from the reasonable standard of conduct, the vast majority of drivers do not prioritize pedestrians in the crosswalk and blowing around a corner without looking is the accepted standard of conduct on our streets.

  • “Jumped in front of my car…” This “excuse” should disqualify people from driving. If you think a pedestrian jumped in front of your car, it is because you aren’t looking. This is an admission of guilt.

  • Simon Phearson

    If I’m not mistaken, maybe a block from here there’s a sign saying, “drive like your family lives here.” Clearly a problematic area.

  • JarekFA

    Maybe if the local precinct handed out more brochures reminding drivers to driver more carefully, this child would still be alive.

    Sorry for the cynicism but that’s really a big portion of what the NYPD does re: the Vision Zero education component.

  • JarekFA

    When I last renewed my driver’s license I had to take a vision test.

  • qrt145

    They don’t test for inattentional blindness.

  • djx

    “I didn’t mean to hit anyone. I didn’t know I hit anyone.”

    So it’s not murder, just manslaughter.

  • Exactly.

    Hitting a pedestrian or a bicyclist should be considered presumptive evidence of negligence. The only possible defence against this would be that the victim intended to get hit, in an effort to commit a kind of “suicide by car”.

  • Fool

    A man with next to no time left kills a baby.

    Terrible.

  • squidonabike

    Making a left turn through a crosswalk without making sure there aren’t pedestrians in one’s path is pretty much the definition reckless. One might as well drive blindfolded if that’s “standard conduct”. I’m sure you’d change your tune if it were your child crushed to death in the street.

  • Joe R.

    For the vast majority of people the very act of driving at age 86 constitutes a substantial and unjustifiable risk. We have the AARP and their incessant campaigning to thank for the fact we don’t scrutinize drivers over about about 55 more carefully. For many driving skills start to decline by about that age. There should be annual or biannual retesting starting at age 55. There should also be a system in place where if you have a condition or take medications preventing you from driving safely, your license is automatically suspended.

  • Vooch

    While the child lay dieing in the street; he cried out „Mommy don‘t leave me“

  • Vooch

    Interesting interpretation.

    So killing is normal ?

  • AstoriaBlowin

    no, i’m saying that what has been normalized is dangerous driving and not slowing or stopping for pedestrians at intersections. The accepted standard of conduct among drivers is to NOT yield, so what this guy did was not a “gross deviation” from the standard. I’m not making a legal argument, by the way, but wouldn’t surprise me if the police/DA do see it in something along those lines. It’s not manslaughter cause this guy was in a car and going through the turn without stopping is normal and not reckless.

  • AstoriaBlowin

    I don’t trust drivers ever at any intersection when I am with my son because in my neighborhood they are a menace and will run you down. But that is related to the point I was trying to make, maybe didn’t do it so well. That behavior is normal among drivers, Jimenez turning without looking or slowing is not a gross deviation from the standard, it’s exactly how most people drive.

  • Simon Phearson

    I think you’re reading the reasonable person standard out of the statute.

    The “reasonable person” standard isn’t a statistical measure of what the median or average person does; it is, to a certain extent, a normative and objective standard that sets a minimum baseline for our behavior. The question, under the “reasonable person” standard, is always what a reasonable person would do in given circumstances, not what a substantial number of people evidently do actually do.

    If this were ever to get to a trial (ha!), the jury would probably be instructed to consider whether a “reasonable person” would behave as Jimenez did, not whether they themselves would or have done so.

  • qrt145

    You are right, but unfortunately the jurors can still think it was “just an accident” which could happen to any “good driver” like themselves. At least that’s what it looks like to me based on some of the acquittals we’ve seen in those rare cases that made it to trial.

  • Cristina Furlong

    They are indeed handing out brochures this week, and ticketing cyclist too. Meanwhile some enforcement including UC and state police- but you can stand at the shrine to Giovanni and have at least 2 cars U-turn practically into you in a matter of 15 minutes. NYPD should do license and registration check point. How did that style DWI stop work?

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