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Cops Search for Hit-and-Run Driver Who Killed 3-Year-Old in Queens

The merciless motorist killed 3-year-old Quintas Chen in downtown Flushing, Queens on Wednesday night.

3:25 PM EST on November 30, 2023

David Meyer|

Neighbors set up this vigil at the corner where an NYPD tow truck driver killed 7-year-old Kamari Hughes in October.

A merciless hit-and-run driver killed a 3-year-old boy in downtown Flushing, Queens on Wednesday night — the 11th child to die in traffic violence amid one of the city's deadliest years on record, according to police and advocates. 

Cops say the motorist pulled out of a parking lot on College Point Boulevard in Flushing at about 8:30 pm and struck little Quintas Chen — knocking him to the ground and then hitting him again before driving away.

Police did not say whether Chen was accompanied by an adult at the time of the collision near 41st Avenue. An NYPD statement provided scant details other than that Chen was "crossing in front of the vehicle." But the Daily News reported that Chen's dad was carrying him home from a doctor's appointment when he asked to be put down to walk the few blocks left on his own.

The boy's heartbroken dad yelled at the driver to stop, but it was too late, the News reported.

"We love him so much. We keep looking at this picture. We miss our baby so much," his mother, Karen Ng, told the tabloid.

Police found the alleged perpetrator's white 2014 Infiniti Q50 abandoned a few blocks away on College Point Boulevard near Pople Avenue shortly after. The driver remains at large.

The busy downtown Flushing area, and College Point Boulevard in particular, have long been known as dangerous, according to one local elected official.

“This is a road that I walk almost every morning … I've been taking my kids to kindergarten and pre-kindergarten, and nursery school here for six years and we've always recognized there was a problem on this block in this growing neighborhood," said Assembly Member Ron Kim (D-Flushing). 

Since 2019 there have been 276 reported crashes on College Point Boulevard between 41st and Avery avenues, killing two people and injuring 78 others, according to city stats compiled by Crash Mapper

The young boy's death made 2023 the deadliest for traffic violence in Queens since 2014, when former Mayor Bill de Blasio first launched his Vision Zero initiative.

Flushing Council Member Sandra Ung, meanwhile, offered “sincerest sympathies” to the victim’s family — but faced criticism on social media for failing to address how she planned to keep constituents safe.

Ung did not respond to a request for comment. 

Chen’s death evoked the death of 4-year-old Luz Gonzalez back in 2018. And it comes just one month after another little boy, 7-year-old Kamari Hughes, was killed by the driver of an NYPD tow truck in Brooklyn. Hughes died after the driver, 54-year-old Stephanie Sharp, turned onto N. Portland Avenue from Myrtle Avenue, hitting the boy as he was heading to school with his mother at 7:30 a.m., police said.

And Gonzalez, whose first name means “light,” died at the hands of hit-and-run driver who ran her over on a sidewalk after similarly pulling out of a parking spot — highlighting the dangers of curb cuts that only “encourage unpredictable movements and reckless driving," Transportation Alternatives said Thursday.

“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. His loss was preventable," said Danny Harris, the group's executive director.

"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."

An overview of where 3-year-old Quintas Chen was killed. Photo: TA

Sharp pleaded not guilty earlier this month to charges of failure to exercise due care and failure to yield to a pedestrian in the killing of Hughes. But advocates and pols believe her negligence was only partly to blame for the fatal crash — the city’s failure to daylight the intersection by clearing it of parked cars that block visibility also played a deadly role. 

Just hours after Chen was killed, Mayor Adams announced plans to daylight 1,000 intersections a year, in addition to redesigning another 1,000 intersections for safety — progress that’s come too late and too far and few between, Harris said. 

“While this is a step forward, we need to bring these safe street improvements to every corner of our city. Our leaders need to treat traffic violence like what it is: a major public health crisis killing our children. New York City can do more and do better — and it must," he said.

Update: Late on Thursday, the NYPD announced it had arrested a 20-year-old suspect and charged him with leaving the scene and driving without a license.

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