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Family remembers boy killed at Clearview a year later

Like most other children in southern Bayside, Christopher Scott learned to cross the Clearview Expressway pedestrian bridge at 46th Avenue as a toddler.

The bridge is a lifeline for the community, enabling residents to get to two local schools, parks and stores on Bell Boulevard without having to navigate the six-lane Clearview Expressway.

When the future Little League all-star learned to travel the 46th Avenue pedestrian bridge, he followed the pattern set by countless neighborhood children since the bridge was built in the 1960s, including his two older brothers. Christopher’s mother, Virginia Scott, also used the bridge as a child.

A year ago Christopher Scott, 11, was hit and killed by a car on the southbound Clearview Expressway service road after crossing the pedestrian bridge on his bicycle with a group of friends. The driver was not charged in the incident.

Christopher was the second child killed there since 1994, when 11-year-old John Shim died in a similar automobile accident.

As the first anniversary of Christopher’s death approached on Aug. 17, Virginia Scott said the family is struggling to remember the positive aspects of their youngest son’s life.

She credited the support of the community for helping the family get through, including the work of the 111th Police Precinct, Community Board 11 and the staff at New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens, where Christopher was taken after the accident.

“It’s been a whole year,” she said, holding back tears. “I can’t understand why the sun still shines.”

Now Virginia Scott describes the bridge, which had played such a benign role in her life, as “constantly in our face.”

The Scotts and Christopher’s grandmother, longtime Bayside activist Loretta Napier, have spent the last year unsuccessfully petitioning the city Department of Transportation to have a stop sign or traffic light installed at the 46th Avenue pedestrian bridge.

Despite intense community pressure the city DOT has declined to add a traffic device, citing a lack of significant traffic in the area. The agency has conducted two traffic studies of the service road since the August 2000 accident. The city DOT has banned bike riding on the bridge and installed barriers to push traffic away from the entrance to the overpass, where there is no sidewalk.

And while a wide range of elected officials, civic leaders and residents as well as Community Board 11 have supported attempts to name the pedestrian bridge after Christopher to create more awareness about the safety problems, the efforts have been mired in politics.

Legislation to name the pedestrian overpass “Christopher’s Crossing” has languished on Gov. George Pataki’s desk amid stalled state budget negotiations. The state DOT, which oversees the pedestrian bridge, has so far refused to allow the Bayside Kiwanis club to mount a plaque on the bridge remembering both boys killed there.

“It’s a slap in the face,” Virginia Scott said of the family’s inability to effect change at the 46th Ave pedestrian bridge. “I just pray all the time nobody else gets hurt again.”

The pain of Christopher’s death has not lessened in the past year, said Virginia, who along with her husband Omrie and older sons Austin and Jason continue to grieve. Virginia Scott said Friday, the first anniversary of the accident, will be spent visiting their child’s grave in Port Washington.

“That child was loved so much,” she said. “He knew how to spread love. The community’s response is a real tribute to Christopher.”

Christopher’s friends continue to visit the family and while these encounters are always tinged with grief, Virginia Scott said, “we start telling stories and it usually turns into a positive thing.”

“It hasn’t gotten any easier,” Virginia said of the last year. “This week is almost worse than the beginning.

“To us, he’s still out somewhere playing baseball,” she said.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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