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Pickup Truck Driver Kills 5-Year-Old Boy in Queens, Then Speeds Away

10:58 AM EDT on September 2, 2022

A video still that shows a pickup truck driver about to strike and kill a 5-year-old in Queens.

Surveillance video captures the moment at which 5-year-old Jonathan Martinez is killed by a pickup truck driver in Queens. (Photo credit: Liam Quigley)

A 5-year-old boy was killed in Queens on Thursday afternoon by the driver of a massive Dodge Ram pickup truck, who then fled the scene of the crash.

According to the NYPD, the driver was going north on McIntosh Street in East Elmhurst at about 5:30 p.m. when he turned southbound onto 100th Street, where Jonathan Martinez was crossing with his parents. He struck the child, causing severe head and body trauma, and peeled away, cops said. The child was taken to Elmhurst Hospital, where he died. The boy's father ran after the driver in a futile attempt to get him to stop, ABCNews reported.

"Jonathan was the sweetest and brightest boy. He was only five years old. He loved singing and dancing and worshiping the lord. He loved all Spider-Man and car toys," reads a GoFundMe set up to help pay for the family's funeral expenses. "Jonathan was excited for school that he had everything ready. He was always laughing and smiling."

Martinez was killed less than a block from P.S. 127. As Streetsblog reported earlier this year, streets around schools tend to see higher levels of traffic violence, which disproportionately impacts students of color. "We need to do more," Mayor Eric Adams said in June, in response to our coverage. It's unclear what, if anything, the city has done in response to our findings. A request for comment to City Hall was not immediately returned, but we'll update if we get something.

The crash that killed Martinez was only the latest in a spate of hits and runs which have cops scrambling to find motorists, a dirt biker and even a cyclist who absconded after killing or injuring people.

Thirty-eight people died in traffic crashes in July, including 11 pedestrians—the highest toll for any month since the beginning of Vision Zero in 2014. As of Aug. 31, the city had matched the exact traffic death toll of 2021, the bloodiest year since 2014, with 173 killed, according to the Department of Transportation's preliminary numbers.

The DOT's preliminary unreconciled traffic fatality numbers as of Aug. 31.
The DOT's preliminary unreconciled traffic fatality numbers as of Aug. 31.

Pickup trucks and SUVs, which are bulky and high off the ground, are proving to be very efficient child-killing technologies because of their multiple blind spots that do no allow drivers to see what's directly in front of them. The spread of such vehicles is among the chief factors driving the pedestrian death crisis in New York and around the country. The dangerous design of the vehicles has prompted a new bill in the New York State Senate requiring vehicles over 3,000 pounds to have “direct visibility of pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable road users from the drivers position.”

Ten kids cannot be seen by this truck's front-side blind spot. Photo: File
Ten kids cannot be seen by this truck's front-side blind spot — and it's not even the biggest truck out there. Photo: File

In the meantime, the chief of the NYPD's Transportation Bureau is gently reminding drivers to act more cautiously because of the beginning of the school year:

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