An unlicensed pickup truck driver ran over and killed a little boy, and injured his mother, as she pushed the tot in a stroller on a Harlem street on Monday morning, cops said — the third 3-year-old child and the sixth under the age of 11 who have been fatally struck by drivers so far this year.
According to the NYPD, 59-year-old Jaime Sabogal was collared shortly after the crash and charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, plus failure to yield and failure to exercise due care for the fatal crash at around 9:30 on Monday morning.
Police say Sabogal was driving his massive Ford F-250 truck east on 116th Street when he made a left turn onto First Avenue, hitting the 25-year-old mother as she pushed 3-year-old Bertin DeJesus in a stroller inside the crosswalk. The little boy died, and his mother was "not seriously" injured, police said.
Police said in a statement that Sabogal, who lives in Yonkers, remained on the scene, but media reports say he initially fled, only to stop after a witness flagged him down.
In any event, he was not charged with leaving the scene of the crash. A police spokesman would not answer questions about whether the driver was speeding or distracted when he fatally struck the boy. Live video published on the website Citizen shows the blue stroller in the middle of the street as officers investigated the scene.
Sabogal's Ford F-250 has two camera-issued speeding tickets since September, according to city records compiled by How's My Driving.
DeJesus is not the first, or the youngest, kid to be innocently killed while sitting in a stroller this year. A 1-year-old girl was killed after an unlicensed driver hopped the curb, killing her in the Bronx in September.
Charges against Sabogal are something of a rarity in Manhattan, where District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. has only charged 15 drivers this year for the thousands of crashes where someone was killed or injured, Streetsblog reported last week.
Mayor de Blasio tweeted his prayers for the victim's family, but Transportation Alternatives called for more concrete action:
"Bertin’s death was a preventable tragedy," the group's Executive Director Danny Harris said in a statement. "We demand that Mayor de Blasio will recognize the growing emergency on his streets, visit the scene of the crash, stand with Bertin’s family, and do whatever it takes to prevent another crash like this. In moments of crisis, we don’t need hopes and prayers; we need immediate action to ensure that all New Yorkers have safe, equitable and dignified transportation alternatives.” (City Hall did not offer an additional comment beyond the mayoral tweet.)
Two hundred and three people have been killed by drivers so far this year, up more than 8 percent from the same period last year, according to city stats. More horrifyingly, Dejesus is the third 3-year-old killed this year following Emur Shavkator, who was killed by a candy truck driver in Brooklyn in May; and Mardichai Yovits was killed by an SUV driver in Queens in September.
At least six kids 10-years-old or younger have been killed so far this year by drivers.
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