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At the funeral held at St. Robert Bellarmine Roman Catholic Church in Oakland Gardens where the Baiks had faithfully attended the Korean Mass each week, audible sniffles resounded through the vestibule as a small casket covered with a cream-colored cloth lay in front of the altar.
Joseph was struck and killed by a car while biking down a ramp onto the expressway service road, police said.
At around 1:30 p.m. last Thursday, Joseph had ridden into the intersection at Cloverdale Avenue and the service road in Oakland Gardens from the adjacent pedestrian overpass. Joseph was flung from the seat of his purple BMX bike when a white Grand Am slammed into him, launching him and his bike nearly 20 feet, police said.
"All of a sudden there was like dust, and I saw a small boy lying face down next to the bike," said Jennifer Alvarez, 21, who was walking down the service road when the accident occurred. "The man who hit him just kept saying, 'Where is the kid?' He was frantic and yelling for help."
Joseph's family members had watched nearby as a man attempted to perform CPR at the scene to the boy, police said.
Police said that when ambulances arrived on the scene to save Joseph, he was in critical condition. The boy was taken to North Shore University Hospital at Forest Hills and pronounced dead at 2:04 p.m., 111th Precinct Capt. Thomas Pilkington said.
The area is no stranger to tragedy.
In 2000, 11-year-old Christopher Adam Scott was killed by a car while riding his bike down a walkway at 46th Avenue and the Clearview Expressway. His grandmother, Bayside activist and CB 11 member Loretta Napier, led the charge for placing stop signs at the end of such overpasses and walkways. They have never been installed.
In addition, city Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) has said he had heard of another child being struck in the same intersection.
The driver who struck Joseph, described by witnesses as a man in his 30s, was physically shaken and frantically reacted to the accident, worrying about the fate of the little boy.
Police said he later told them he never saw the small boy, who "came out of nowhere," giving him no time to react.
During the traditional Catholic funeral service, the Rev. Andrew Kim spoke in Korean and English to the nearly 100 mourners, telling them to find comfort in memories.
"The one thing to console us is the memory of Joseph," Kim said. "Remember his face. Remember his smile. When you remember him, he comes to you, talks to you and shares your life."
Joseph's mother was escorted by her husband and 10-year-old son, John. Her slender frame was shaken with grief, and at one point she nearly collapsed as she followed the casket out of the church after the service. Joseph was buried in a cemetery in Farmingdale, L.I. .
Joseph's death was ruled an accident, and police said no charges were filed against the driver.
At the time of the accident Baik's cousin, Stephen Quon, 21, was babysitting for Joseph and his two brothers and watched them as they rode their bikes and played on the pedestrian overpass, according to police. The family declined to comment.
Luke Nam, one of Joseph's pallbearers, said the church was starting a petition to install some kind of traffic light or stop sign at the intersection where he died, similar to the previous efforts spurred by Christopher's death.
Nam said that he knew Joseph from attending St. Robert's. "He had just received his First Communion three weeks ago," he said.
Reach reporter Sophia Chang by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.
©2004 Community Newspaper Group
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