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‘We cannot ignore this’: Family, pols demand justice for girl killed by hit-and-run driver in Bushwick - Brooklyn Paper

‘We cannot ignore this’: Family, pols demand justice for girl killed by hit-and-run driver in Bushwick

In memoriam: Reyna Candia, right, the mother of 4-year-old Luz Gonzalez, and her godmother Fabiola Mendieta, left, show a picture of the little girl who was killed during a hit-and-run on Sunday.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

They’ll never see their light again.

Family and friends of the 4-year-old killed when a hit-and-run driver ran over her on a Bushwick sidewalk on Sunday commemorated her short life at a memorial march on Wednesday, where young Luz Gonzalez’s godmother demanded the motorist apologize for slaying her goddaughter, whose name means “light,” she said.

“She was the light to our lives and she’s not here anymore,” said Fabiola Mendieta to the crowd of mourners, reporters, and safe-street advocates who attended the vigil. “We want the driver to at least apologize to the family, to the parents.”

Dozens walked from the intersection of Wilson Avenue and Menahan Street to the corner of Wyckoff Avenue and Hart Street, the site of Clean City Laundry Center, where the unnamed 38-year-old motorist backed out of a potentially illegal parking spot perpendicular to Hart Street, then turned and drove into Gonzalez and her mother — killing the girl and injuring the mom — while pulling onto the road.

On Monday, Police Department spokesman Sergeant Jones told the Brooklyn Paper that the driver — who cops stopped a block away from the collision, before letting her go — will likely not be arrested “because there’s no evidence or probable cause” to do so. And two days later, the New York Daily News reported the motorist wants to speak to Gonzalez’s family.

Borough President Adams, who joined the march and placed a bouquet of flowers at a memorial to Gonzalez outside the laundromat, demanded the driver be held accountable for fleeing the scene after fatally striking the girl — a felony according to state law.

“We cannot ignore this, or merely state that it’s something that happened and forget about it,” Adams, a former cop, said. “We must ensure that everything is done to send a clear and loud message that it’s not tolerated to leave the scene of an accident.”

Another vigil participant who a reckless driver sent flying to the pavement in 2014 while she pedaled her bike down a Bushwick street called the horrifying hit-and-run all too familiar, especially because cops never cuffed that motorist.

“[Luz’s family] was devastated, they have yet to arrest the driver or anything — it’s unbelievable,” said Bedford-Stuyvesant resident Dulcie Canton, who filed a civil suit against the motorist who hit her, and now works as an organizer for cycling-advocacy group Transportation Alternatives.

The crowd of charged demonstrators also called on state pols to renew and expand the about-to-expire legislation mandating speed cameras on city streets near schools, which they said would help prevent future fatalities on local roads. This year, rogue drivers have now killed 9 kids while behind the wheel — though Adams acknowledged that cameras would not have saved Gonzalez’s life.

“A speed camera would not have saved the life of this child, but it is the absence of speed cameras that are putting our children in harm’s way,” he said.

Officials are still investigating the fatal crash, according to reps for the Police Department and district attorney’s office.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

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