The 30-year-old Brooklyn man who struck and killed a six-year-old in Dyker Heights in August was arraigned Wednesday, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said.
Qiuhua Zhu of Sunset Park, who is out on $50,000 bail, was indicted on 12 charges including criminally negligent homicide and second-degree manslaughter and ordered to return to court on Dec 1. He faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison if convicted of the top count.
Gonzalez said Zhu was traveling southbound on 12th Avenue at about 8 pm on Aug. 24 when he crossed double yellow lines to get around a stopped vehicle at the intersection of 67th Street. The other driver had stopped and motioned for six-year-old Tamy Hiromi Quema Guachiac and her mother to cross 67th Street from north to south, as she had the walk signal.
After passing the stopped vehicle, Zhu turned left into 67th Street and hit Guachiac in the crosswalk. Emergency responders took her to Maimonedes Medical Center, and she was pronounced dead a short time later.
“This defendant allegedly recklessly drove into oncoming traffic to get around a vehicle that was in front of him and ended up striking and killing an innocent child,” Gonzalez said. “We will now seek to hold him accountable for his actions. I am committed to protecting pedestrians and all who use our streets from unsafe drivers who endanger our community.”
The Dyker Heights community held a vigil in memory of Guachiac days after she was killed, drawing dozens of neighbors and elected officials including Borough President Eric Adams and Assemblymember Peter Abbate.
Abbate said at the time that the community had fought to install a traffic light at the intersection for years.
“It took ten years — ten years — to get this traffic light up we fought for, and we wanted to end accidents like this,” he said. “I guess it’s not enough, I think the truth is really got to change the culture of driving.”
The summer of 2021 saw the highest number of traffic fatalities in Brooklyn since Mayor Bill de Blasio took office in 2014. Between June and August, 23 people were killed in car crashes in Kings County, including Guachiac and 3-month-old Apolline Mong-Guillemin.
The trend continued citywide, with 77 New Yorkers killed in traffic fatalities on city streets in the summer of 2021, up from 66 during the summer of 2020 and 62 in 2019.