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Teen killed on tracks buried

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Ari Simantov Kraft, 13, died when an eastbound train approaching Forest Hills station hit him on the LIRR tracks near 63rd Drive and Austin Street at approximately 5:40 p.m.Police said he and some friends were graffiti-tagging the area alongside the tracks. Friends of Ari told Newsday he was trying to paint his graffiti tag, KOS, on signal boxes.His parents are considering suing the MTA, the LIRR, the city and the adjacent property owner for not repairing gaps in the fence lining the tracks.At his funeral Sunday at Sinai Chapels in Fresh Meadows, hundreds of mourners filled the main chapel, spilling out into the hallway and two adjacent viewing rooms. Parents, teachers and teenagers, even the boys, cried openly as Rabbi Albert Thaler spoke of the "sense of shock, loss and sadness" at Ari's death."Children can bring us the greatest joy, and children can bring us the greatest sadness," he said.Martin Mayerson, the principal at Solomon Schechter School on 76-16 Parsons Blvd. in Flushing, where Ari was in eighth grade, also spoke. Mayerson said Ari was "a good student who accomplished his work with minimal effort. He loved computer games, and I often saw him on his mother's computer as he waited for her after 3 o'clock."Ari's mother, Yaffa Simantov, is Mayerson's administrative assistant at the school. Sarit Levy, the mother of several Solomon Schechter graduates and Simantov's neighbor, spoke highly of the grieving mother. "The mom, she's one of a kind. She watched him all the time," she said. "I asked [my daughter] how come this happened because [Yaffa] didn't deserve it, but she didn't have an answer."Levy said Simantov is an immigrant from Israel who was divorced from Ari's father, Roger Kraft, for many years. Ari was her only child. "I just worry about her. It'll be very hard for her. After shiva, she'll be all alone," Levy said.Daniella Levi, an attorney and friend of Simantov, said Ari was on his way home to sabbath dinner when the accident occurred.Levi said Ari's parents are considering suing the LIRR, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the city and the Shalimar Diner at 63-68 Austin St. next to the accident site for not maintaining the fence alongside the tracks."They're currently sitting shiva and mourning this incomprehensible loss of their child," Levi said. "We are in the preliminary stages of our investigation. Once we have some additional information we'll figure out the next step" in a wrongful death suit. The LIRR would not comment on a possible lawsuit.The LIRR is responsible for fencing it installs-typically chain link fences-along its 700 miles of track, but it repaired or replaced some of the broken privately-owned wooden stockade fences near the accident site over the weekend, said LIRR spokeswoman Susan McGowan.City Council Transportation Committee Chairman John Liu (D-Flushing) said, "I don't encourage people suing, but it's still the MTA and the LIRR's responsibility to do the bare minimum to keep people off the tracks, whether they build their own or rely on private fences."The train had left Penn Station at 5:17 p.m. bound for Huntington, L.I., and carried 1,000 passengers, the LIRR said. The accident halted train traffic in both directions for several hours, with full service resuming after 8:30 p.m., the LIRR said.Reach reporter Alex Christodoulides by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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