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Children remember dead friend

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But in the nearly eight months since Christopher, 11, was hit...

By Kathianne Boniello

David Crumps, 14, used to love to ride his bicycle throughout his southern Bayside neighborhood, often seeking out his good friend Christopher Scott so the two could explore the area together.

But in the nearly eight months since Christopher, 11, was hit by a car and killed while riding his bike over a pedestrian bridge as he tried to cross the southbound Clearview Expressway service road at 46th Avenue, David and several of Christopher’s friends said they no longer enjoy the childhood pastime.

“We’d ride everywhere around Bayside,” David said. “I miss that about him.”

Gerald Washington, 13, said: “I don’t even ride my bike anymore.”

The teens were among several of Christopher’s friends ranging in age from 8 to 14 who gathered in Bayside Saturday to remember Christopher as well as to express their feelings about a plan to create a memorial for their friend by naming the pedestrian bridge in his honor.

“It should be ‘Christopher’s Crossing,’” the group said, nearly in unison.

Naming the pedestrian overpass in honor of Christopher has met with debate at recent Community Board 11 meetings, with some Bayside civic leaders suggesting the bridge should be named to recognize both Christopher and John Shim, 10, who was killed in 1994 while riding his bike at the same spot.

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

After Christopher’s death the DOT made several changes to the area, including a ban on bicycle riding on the pedestrian overpass, school crossing signs, and a barrier on the service road to push cars away from the bridge entrance, where there is no curb. DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall said in a January interview that her staff had gone into MS 158 and PS 31, both several blocks away from the pedestrian bridge, to educate students on how to cross the street safely.

Laughter and quiet sadness dominated an afternoon among Christopher’s friends that focused on Christopher’s life and death.

Maurice Roberts, 12, said he was shocked to hear of Christopher’s death.

“I just saw the boy in the park and the next thing I know he’s dead,” he said.

David said: “I still feel like I can walk up to his door and find him there.”

The group said they have received little counseling from MS 158, the school Christopher would have attended, and none of them have seen or received information from DOT representatives on traffic safety.

The teens said the day of the accident Christopher stopped his bike at the edge of the pedestrian overpass and pushed it forward a few inches into the street while waiting for oncoming traffic to pass.

“He let the first car pass,” said Gerald, who was one of the kids hanging out with Christopher that day.

The youths riding on the pedestrian overpass with Christopher said a second car hit the wheel of his bike, flinging Christopher’s body off it and into the street.

“He tried to stand on his brakes,” Gerald said, “and then you heard that boom and everybody’s best friend went flying in the air.”

Sharde Weiss, 13, went up to Christopher after he was hit .

“His eyes were open and he was shaking,” she said. “He was trying to say something to me — he looked so scared.”

Ebony Williams, 11, said Christopher’s sudden death has taught her to watch the way she speaks to people.

“You shouldn’t say something bad because something might happen,” she said.

Sharde said Christopher’s death made her “appreciate people more.”

The teenagers said they would write to the DOT to protest the decision against installing a traffic light or stop sign at the accident site.

Porcha Terry, 10, said she would tell Weinshall “to picture her own kids” in Christopher’s place.

Several of Christopher’s friends face the daily choice of whether or not to cross the pedestrian overpass.

David Crumps’ mother, Jean, said she tells her son to avoid the pedestrian bridge and walk the long way to school at nearby MS 158 by going toward Northern Boulevard.

Rakeem Myers, 11, said: “I don’t even go across the bridge anymore.”

Minutes after Christopher’s friends left the get-together, a single boy could be seen peddling across the bridge despite the large sign saying “Bikers — Stop, Dismount and Walk Bike.”

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

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