From the NY Daily News, Nov. 9:
SUV kills Brooklyn boy, 5
An SUV fleeing a fender bender jumped a Brooklyn sidewalk and mowed down a mother and her three children as they held hands – killing a 5-year-old boy, police and witnesses said.
Jehovah Fombrun, who was walking to a school bus stop with his mother and two older siblings amid driving rain, was hit and thrown about 15 feet into the air on busy Flatbush Ave. about 7:40 a.m. The kindergartner with the Spider-Man knapsack died at the scene in front of his critically injured mother, Rachel Dorce, 24, who had tried to pull her kids to safety.
“They were holding hands and running,” said Ray Davila, 31, who witnessed the horror near E. 28th St. in Flatbush. “The SUV just swallowed them.”
At least three other pedestrians dived for cover as the green Ford Explorer came barreling down the sidewalk and then swerved back into traffic. Enraged onlookers got Bertilde Gabriel, 52, to stop about two blocks away.
“I didn’t do anything,” said Gabriel, who was charged with leaving the scene of an accident and criminally negligent homicide.
Tears rolled down her face as cops led her from the 70th Precinct stationhouse in handcuffs late yesterday afternoon. “I didn’t drive away,” she insisted.
Gabriel’s relatives said she had heart palpitations and blacked out before hitting Dorce and her three children. Gabriel had passed out twice in three months before yesterday’s accident, they said.
“She didn’t know,” said Franklin Gabriel, 53, when asked about his wife’s reaction to the morning mayhem. “I had to tell her.”
But police said Bertilde Gabriel blew through a stop sign yesterday and collided with a Chevrolet Tahoe.
Witnesses said she stopped briefly after the fender bender and then sped off – plowing into the pedestrians seconds later.
“She made a simple accident much worse,” a police source said of Gabriel, who lives about two blocks from the scene of devastation.
Gabriel was in an accident in May and has a 2003 conviction on her record for disobeying a traffic device, records show. She was briefly hospitalized yesterday after complaining of chest pains. Dorce was in critical condition at Kings County Hospital with bleeding on her brain.
“She’s 50-50,” said Kevin St. Jean, 24, her live-in boyfriend. “She’s in and out of consciousness.” Her other children Joshua, 8, and Adeline, 6, were in stable condition at the same hospital. Joshua suffered facial cuts that needed stitches, and Adeline had bumps, bruises and scratches on her face. Neither the mother nor her two injured kids know Jehovah is gone.
“This is a very tragic death,” said the Rev. Edouard Jean, the mom’s great-uncle and associate pastor of the Open Eye Evangelical Church of God in East Flatbush, where the family worships.
He described Jehovah as “a sweet, innocent, smart child who died for nothing.”
“I’m sure he’s gone to heaven to meet God because he was an angel,” Jean said.
Jean said Jehovah’s dad, Wilfred Fombrun, is in Florida but it was unclear if he had been told what happened.
“As a parent, I’m a little sick right now,” said Donna Walsh as she picked her child up from Public School 52 in Sheepshead Bay, where Jehovah and his siblings went to school. “You have one person in a car who shattered four lives.”
The mom and kids were hit near Flatbush Ave. and Glenwood Road – the site of 35 pedestrian injuries in the past 10 years, according to the watchdog group Transportation Alternatives.
The group called the intersection one of the most dangerous in the city – an assessment city officials denied.
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