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Bridge to be named after Christopher Scott

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On the same day the Bayside Little League opened its season with a parade down Bell Boulevard, seven of Christopher Scott’s friends talked to police officers from the 111th Precinct about the 11-year-old’s Little Leaguer’s death on the 46th Avenue pedestrian bridge.

A picture of Christopher — decked out in his Bayside Little League uniform with a baseball bat resting on his shoulder — is prominently displayed in the livingroom in the Bayside home of his grandmother, Loretta Napier.

As the children sat nervously in the crowded room Saturday, a bit intimidated by the police officers — Capt. Kevin Fitzgerald, Lt. Dan Heffernan and Officer Anthony Lombardi — Napier announced that the bridge next to where her grandson was killed by a motorist will be officially named Christopher’s Crossing.

Darius Walker, 8, wearing a T-shirt, sweat pants and a bandanna, screamed “Yes!” and threw up his hands in victory.

“Mrs. Napier called me here to meet with you and get your concerns about the accident,” said Fitzgerald. “I came here to allow you to speak with us about what is on your minds regarding the Christopher Scott incident.”

Christopher was hit by a car and killed in August as he rode his bicycle across the pedestrian bridge and began to enter the service road, where at the time there was no curb or buffer from the street. In July 1994 John Shim, 10, was killed in the same spot while riding his bike.

The city Department of Transportation, citing insufficient traffic on the service road, decided in December not to install a traffic light or stop sign at the intersection of the service road and 46th Avenue.

After Christopher’s death, the DOT made several changes to the area, imposing a ban on bicycle riding on the pedestrian overpass, installing school crossing signs, and erecting a barrier on the service road to keep cars away from the bridge entrance, where there is no curb.

The officers from the 111th Precinct met with the children in an attempt to ease their anxiety over Christopher’s death, which several of them had witnessed.

Anita Gomez-Palacio, principal of MS 158, said the school’s guidance counselors were on alert for any children in distress after the accident. Memorial services were held at MS 158 right after Christopher died.

A nervous Ebony Williams, 11, told the cops that at the time of the accident she had seen the driver and passenger of the car switch seats. She said a “fat guy” got out of the car after the car stopped down the block, and he hit the car. He then switched places with a “skinny guy,” she said, and somebody said he did not have a license.

Gerald Washington, 13, and Sharde Weiss, 13, also said that the driver and passenger switched seats.

Fitzgerald told the kids that the Highway Patrol investigated the accident and that there was no report that anyone switched seats in the car that hit Christopher.

“The Highway Patrol pulled the tapes from the toll booths and it was the same person who was driving the vehicle when the accident happened,” he said. “Naturally, we want to know if someone is switching seats, but it was determined that the man driving the vehicle at the toll booths was the man driving the car at the time of the accident.”

Napier was concerned about the handling of the investigation and wanted to know what she could do to make sure that any mistakes or oversights were rectified.

Heffernan told Napier and the children that the police officers do a thorough job when investigating accidents, but they are not infallible and do make errors. He said that is why there are the courts, which make the final decision on the law.

“Where are the people in the car now and how come they are not in jail?” asked Williams.

The man was not arrested, said Fitzgerald.

“It was determined to be an accident,” Heffernan told the group.

When asked by Napier if they felt better after talking with the police about what happened and what they saw, the kids all nodded yes.

“You don’t know what you have until they are gone,” Ebony said. “I never realized what kind of friend I had in Chris.”

-- Kathianne Boniello contributed to this story

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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