86-Year-Old Driver Kills Giovanni Ampuero, 9, in Queens Crosswalk

Motorists have killed five children walking or biking on NYC streets this year, compared to one such fatality in the first four months of 2017.

Scene of the crash that killed Giovanni Ampuero. Video still: WABC
Scene of the crash that killed Giovanni Ampuero. Video still: WABC

An 86-year-old man hit a woman and her son with an SUV in a Queens crosswalk on Saturday, killing 9-year-old Giovanni Ampuero. The driver fled the scene.

Motorists have killed five children who were walking or biking on NYC streets so far this year, compared to one such fatality in the first four months of 2017.

Giovanni Ampuero
Giovanni Ampuero

Juan Jimenez was turning left from 70th Street onto Northern Boulevard at around 1:20 p.m. and struck Giovanni and his mother, Karen Manrique. Jimenez continued driving until he was stopped 10 blocks away by a cab driver who witnessed the crash, the Daily News reported.

The victims were conscious at the scene. Giovanni sustained trauma to his head and body and died at Elmhurst Hospital.

According to court records, NYPD and Queens District Attorney Richard Brown charged Jimenez with felony leaving the scene, misdemeanor failure to yield, and failure to exercise due care, which is a traffic infraction.

“I was driving home to Manhattan from the casino,” Jimenez told investigators. “I made a left turn on Northern Blvd. … [W]hen I made the turn a woman jumped in front of my car but I did not hit her. I kept driving and a cab driver waved me down and told me I hit someone.”

“It was an accident,” Jimenez said. “I didn’t mean to hit anyone. I didn’t know I hit anyone.”

If Jimenez was incapable of seeing two people crossing the street on a dry, clear day, why was he driving in the first place?

It’s up to the state Department of Motor Vehicles to decide who is fit to operate a motor vehicle, but the DMV sets no age limit on driving, and leaves it to individuals and their families to determine when it’s no longer safe for someone to drive. An 86-year-old can renew his license online or by mail, the same as a driver who is 50 or 60 years younger.

The car Jimenez was driving has several tickets attached to it, including one for speeding in a school zone. But camera tickets don’t add points to a driver’s license, and by themselves would not trigger the DMV to review Jimenez’s behavior behind the wheel.

Juan Jimenez was held on $20,000 bond, court records say. His next court appearance is scheduled for May 11.

Hours after Giovanni and his mother were struck, a hit-and-run driver killed an unidentified man walking at 153rd Street and Hillside Avenue in Briarwood. The perpetrator was not immediately caught or identified.

Giovanni Ampuero was killed in the 115th Precinct — where motorists have taken the lives of four other children since 2012, according to crash data tracked by Streetsblog — and in the City Council district represented by Danny Dromm.