From Newsday, Sept. 4:
Brooklyn boy dies after being struck by two cars
A Queens driver is facing a felony charge after he fled a Brooklyn accident in which a 7-year-old boy was struck by two vehicles and killed as the boy’s mother and older brother watched, police said.
Moments after running over Christian Acteopan on Bleecker Street in Bushwick Sunday evening, Jean Vargas, 20, of Little Neck, drove his Mitsubishi Eclipse several blocks away and idled outside a housing development until police spotted his car and arrested him on suspicion of leaving the scene of an accident, police said.
“He should pay for what he did,” the boy’s grief-stricken mother, Margarita Acteopan, 28, said yesterday.
A second driver also hit the boy and remained at the scene until police arrived. Police identified him as Michael Castro, 20, of Harrisburg, Pa. He has not been charged.
Acteopan says she has no memory of the accident. She said she was returning from the supermarket Sunday as Christian and his older brother Edgar rode scooters.
After Christian was struck in the street down the block from the family’s home, witnesses said Edgar, 8, knelt at Christian’s body, pleading with his brother not to die.
“My son! No! No! No! No!” their mother howled in Spanish yesterday, as dozens gathered in the third-floor apartment also cried. “Why my child? Why my child? Why my boy? Why did you leave me?”
The Mexican immigrant wept in front of the bed once shared by Christian and Edgar. Yesterday, the boys’ bed still had two blankets, two baseball caps and two pillows.
“My boy was good. He was very intelligent,” Acteopan said. “He was a healthy boy. Nothing ever happened to him. I don’t understand why.” Her voice trailed off.
When Edgar returned to the apartment yesterday afternoon – his uncle took him out of the neighborhood for a while because he was so traumatized, Acteopan said – he and his mother embraced, sobbed together and hugged for long periods.
As they mourned, the accused hit-and-run driver awaited arraignment in Brooklyn Criminal Court, according to Brooklyn District Attorney spokesman Jonah Bruno.
One 15-year-old, who said yesterday she saw someone sitting in a Mitsubishi on Gates Avenue three or four hours after the accident, said he seemed calm as police questioned him for about 20 minutes, then detained him. The witness’ parents asked that her name not be published.
On Bleecker Street, news of Vargas’ capture spread as neighbors took up a collection to help pay funeral expenses.
Next to the accident scene, neighbors held vigil at a growing memorial of flowers, candles, stuffed animals and handwritten goodbye messages scrawled around photos of the boy.
Frank Jimenez, who said he took Christian’s pulse moments after the accident, held two white envelopes each labeled “$$” yesterday. “I’ll be out here all day,” Jimenez, 50, said as cars and pedestrians stopped and handed him dollar bills. “Somebody has to help.” By 3 p.m. yesterday, he had raised $408, he said.
The cash will help Acteopan bury her son in Mexico. Without the donations, said Acteopan, who according to her pay stub earns $7.30 an hour packaging CDs at a factory in Brooklyn, she couldn’t afford to fly Christian’s body back to Santiago Teopantlan, the village where the boy was born.
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