A toddler with a love for fireflies and a motorcycle enthusiast died in a Saturday night crash at a Cambria Heights intersection that some said is in dire need of a traffic light.
Shortly after 10 p.m., Curtis Battle's motorcycle slammed into a 2003 Hyundai at the intersection of Springfield Boulevard and 121st Avenue, police said.
The car was driven by Viviann Rodriguez and carried her 2-year-old daughter Janae Bersai Forde and three other children.
"This guy just came out of nowhere," Rodriguez said as she stared in disbelief at the scene of the accident the following afternoon. "I didn't see him until he hit me."
Janae, a Hollis resident, was rushed to Long Island Jewish Medical Center and Battle, 33, of Jamaica to Franklin General Hospital. Both were pronounced dead on arrival.
Kaia Williams of Staten Island, Forde's 6-year-old cousin, was brought to Long Island Jewish Hospital in critical condition, police said. She was still in critical condition as of press time Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the hospital said.
Chenee Williams, 12, Kaia's sister, and Joshua Gonzalez, 14, was taken to Franklin General in stable condition, police said.
Rodriguez had been driving her car west on 121st Avenue when Battle's motorcycle, heading south, struck her vehicle, police said.
Rodriguez said she had come to a stop at a stop sign before crossing Springfield Boulevard, where there are no traffic controls for drivers on that north-south thoroughfare. She said all of the car's occupants were wearing their seat belts.
Earlier that evening, the family was sitting in the yard when Forde noticed fireflies flicking on and off in the dark.
"We were just playing in the yard, and my daughter was just fascinated by them," Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez decided to drive the children to a nearby park to see if they could find more fireflies, she said. The park, however, had no such insects and they were driving back toward their home when the crash occurred, she said.
Rodriguez said her daughter was smiling as she slept just before the crash.
"She was very, very happy," she said.
Battle, a lover of motorcycles, had recently opened the Static Complete Martial Arts Academy on Merrick Boulevard.
At a Monday afternoon press conference, Battle's brother, Cedric, called him "the black Bruce Lee."
"We all loved him. The whole community loved him," Cedric Battle said. "There's nothing he wouldn't have done for nobody."
At the same news conference, state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans), Assemblywoman Barbara Clark (D-Queens Village) and Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) called for a traffic light at the intersection.
Some Cambria Heights residents questioned why the 121st Avenue crossing does not have a traffic light, while most nearby intersections on Springfield Boulevard do.
"This whole street cars just fly down," said Monique Banks, who lives on Springfield Boulevard. "My kids come out to play, you tell them, 'Don't even go out there.'"
Police had not issued any summonses for the accident as of late Tuesday, but they were continuing an investigation.
Reporter Courtney Dentch contributed to this story.
Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300 Ext. 141.
©2003 Community News Group
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