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Buried alone: Parents of girl killed by hit-and-run driver forwent her Mexican funeral amid immigration crackdown

In memoriam: Reyna Candia, right, the mother of 4-year-old Luz Gonzalez, and the girl's father chose not to attend their daughter's funeral in Mexico due to fears they would be stopped at the border amid the crack down on immigration under President Donald Trump, according to Gonzalez's godmother Fabiola Mendieta, left.
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They didn’t get to say goodbye.

The parents of the 4-year-old killed by a hit-and-run driver who ran over her on a Bushwick sidewalk last month sent the girl’s body to be buried in their native Mexico after a funeral the immigrants chose not to attend, due to fears their attempt at the American dream would be robbed by being denied reentry to the country.

Young Luz Gonzalez’s godmother said the White House’s crackdown on immigration led her parents — who she said are not citizens like their American-born daughter, but are working to apply for green cards — to forgo attending her July 3 burial, and instead fly her corpse to the Latin American nation alone and hold a commemorative service in Kings County that same week.

“Right now, with the president we have, it’s hard for anyone to leave the country and try to come back,” said Fabiola Mendieta.

On June 24, motorist Jeanette Maria backed out of a Bushwick laundromat’s parking lot — which the city has since deemed illegal and ordered to close — turned, and accelerated into Gonzalez and her mother, killing the girl and injuring the mom, then fled the scene.

Cops stopped Maria as she drove away from the lot at Hart Street and Wyckoff Avenue, but did not arrest or charge her, prompting Gonzalez’s friends and relatives, along with activists, to stage a series of marches from the laundromat to the 83rd Precinct’s Bushwick station house demanding explanations as to why the driver — who some allege is being protected by law enforcement due to rumored Police Department connections — still walks free.

Deciding to stay in Brooklyn while their daughter was laid to rest in their Mexican hometown — where one of Gonzalez’s four brothers, grandparents, and other kin still live, according to Mendieta — was heart-wrenching for the dad, who works at a local business, and stay-at-home mom, according to the godmother.

But the parents, who Mendieta claimed have been questioned about their immigration status before, ultimately chose to stay because going would have likely meant they couldn’t return for months — forcing them to abandon their attempts to seek justice for their little girl, she said.

“It was a hard decision because they really wanted to go with her,” said Mendieta, who also leads a local Mexican-American advocacy group. “I told them, ‘You have to do what you have to do, but if she was my kid, I’d want justice.’ ”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 5:24 pm, July 12, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Frank from Bay Ridge says:
Vision Zero, what a kidder!
July 12, 9:04 pm
Justice? from Brooklyn says:
Was their even an injustice here? Does anyone actually think this driver intentionally ran over this kid? Is it really the drivers fault that there was an illegal driveway and would it have made a difference even it it was legal?

The injustice was in not being with your daughter and family at any cost.

Hey but I'm just one person. To each his own.
July 13, 9:05 am
AJT from Queens Village says:
If you're driving a vehicle anywhere then your job is to do it responsibly without driving over children. Doesn't matter whether the parking spaces were legal or illegal. The driver may not have deliberately killed the child, but she certainly operated her vehicle irresponsibly. And you're supposed to stop after using your vehicle to kill someone.
July 13, 12:17 pm
Nina says:
This is all so tragic.
July 13, 7:02 pm
Disgusted by Brooklyn Paper says:
How this paper allows Vision Zero’s profane personal attacks on Henry Ford stand, while censoring any comments that disagree with the author is appalling. I have reported the nasty comments which are clearly in violation of the rules. Why haven’t they been removed?
July 14, 4:38 am
Vaneli from Minneapolis says:
It’s INHUMANE.

The lady,Knowing she has a 2018 Nissan rouge with 3 cameras .. & she still didn’t “see” the child . I call that injustice. Knowing the baby passed away on June 24th , they’re still marching for justice. This is barely on the Brooklyn paper. The news is censoring this story. The baby was on her scooter her shoe fell off. She just wanted her shoe back on and get back on her scooter instead you know what she got? Killed. Chest trauma. This is devastating. What did the baby deserve ? To be killed to horribly , like an ANIMAL. This is all over social media. NYPD. Needs to actually do there job ,do justice. The Gonzalez family can’t even mourn in peace knowing this woman is free.
July 14, 8:45 am
Justice? from Brooklyn says:
All the negative comments here are that of an angry torch carrying mob.

Let the police do their jobs in conducting a proper investigation before formulating an opinion.

Driving doesn't automatically make you guilty.
July 15, 1:44 pm
Joe Bloe from brooklyn says:
This parking area was not a driveway, it's illegal parking on sidewalk. Legal parking lots do not share pedestrian sidewalks to back up or drive on period. Every responsible driver knows that ! The fact is the driver left the scene of a fatal hit & run, the excuse of I did not see the pedestrian on a legal sidewalk is a DEFENSE for a grad jury to decide not the cops on the scene. The fact that the parents are possibly illegals is the reason this driver got away, but it does not make them less human.
July 17, 11:11 am
Jane from Massachusetts says:
I don't understand how the driver has been allowed to walk free for this long. Before I back out of a parking lot it is MY responsibility to look right or left. Even with a back up camera I still double check as I drive. I also do not believe that there's anyway the driver did not feel her car go over this young girl's body.

My thoughts and prayers are with the family. I cannot imagine how difficult this must be for them. Instead of being able to completely mourn they must also find the energy to seek and fight for justice for the life that was taken away. I hope the justice system does not fail them and Jeannette Maria is arrested.
July 22, 10:46 am

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