A still shaken friend and neighbor witnessed the tragic death of 8-year-old Noshat Nahin, who was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer in Woodside as he walked to school last week.
“It was horrible. I haven’t been able to sleep,” said Dr. Shaila Suopana in an emotional voice Monday evening.
The third-grader was trying to cross Northern Boulevard with his 11-year-old sister to get to PS 152 at 62nd Street for the last day of school before the Christmas break.
“The boy was crossing the road and this big truck made a left-hand turn, never seeing him,” Suopana recalled. “The huge truck hit the boy, knocking him down. His sister was immediately in shock, and I think I was, too.”
The boy had moved to Queens with his family from Bangladesh only a few months ago.
Suopana said the facts she learned about the accident later made her angry.
The driver of the truck, Mauricio Osorio-Palomino, 51, of Newark, N.J., was arrested for allegedly driving with a suspended license, which is misdemeanor usually punishable with a fine or up to a year in jail.
“It was clearly the driver’s fault and then I found out he was unlicensed. I can’t believe it,” Suopana said.
State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria) introduced legislation that would make it a felony for motorists who drive with suspended licenses and kill or seriously injure someone in the process.
Speaking Monday at the corner of 61st Street and Northern Boulevard in Woodside, where Noshat died last Friday, Gianaris said, “A little boy is dead because this driver was still on the road despite repeated unsafe driving violations.”
The senator also proposed the immediate impoundment of the license plate of a vehicle being operated by someone with a suspended license.
“I am hopeful that these bills will become law and help prevent tragedies like this one,” Gianaris said.
Noshat was on his way to class at PS 152, which stands at the other side of six lanes of traffic. There was no crossing guard at the corner.
“How on earth can you have a school zone with no crossing guard on such a busy street?” asked Suopono,
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said “the school has requested a crossing guard for months and the city administration let them down.”
He added, “That’s an outrage that should have been prevented.”
Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) called for a comprehensive street safety plan for the city.
“Speed cameras and other technologies as well as crossing guards need to be included,” he said.
Several safety activists joined the elected officials at the news conference. Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, said, “It’s unconscionable that kids are dying in these streets. That truck didn’t even have crossover mirrors to see short pedestrians. More than one thing went wrong here.”
He produced statistics that showed drivers who had their licenses suspended or revoked for safety reasons are among the most dangerous and twice as likely to cause a fatal accident. From 2007-11, drivers with suspended licenses killed 181 city residents.
“I am sick and tired of having these press conferences,” Gianaris said.
Make Queens Safer-Three Children Too Many, a group of activists who advocate for safer streets, held a vigil to honor the child Sunday evening. More than 200 people attended, including Noshat’s parents.
His mother spoke briefly of her only son’s love of PS 152, according to the group’s co-founder, Cristina Furlong. Wasima Hussain, 14, said the mother told the crowd that she had wanted to return to her native Bangladesh, but Noshat convinced her to stay in the United States so he could pursue a career in medicine and take care of her when she was older.
“It was heartbreaking,” Wasima said.
About 40 of the child’s classmates attended the vigil.
“This could happen to anyone,” said Asif Rahman, 17. “I feel this could happen to me, it could happen to my parents.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.
©2013 Community News Group
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