News

Boy Struck By Tractor-Trailer, Killed While Walking To School In East Harlem

Crossing Guard Tells 1010 WINS She Was In Bathroom When Child Was Killed
Amar Diarrassouba was struck and killed by a tractor trailer in East Harlem on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013 (credit: Eileen Lehpamer/1010 WINS)

Amar Diarrassouba was struck and killed by a tractor trailer in East Harlem on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013 (credit: Eileen Lehpamer/1010 WINS)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A 6-year-old boy is dead after being struck by a tractor-trailer Thursday morning in Manhattan.

It happened around 8 a.m. at the intersection of First Avenue and East 117th Street in East Harlem.

Amar Diarrassouba was walking to school with his 10-year-old brother when he was struck. They were in the First Avenue crosswalk when he was hit by the truck as it turned from East 117th Street, police said.

“He was a wonderful child,” the boy’s mother, Mehichat Diarrasova, told CBS 2’s Steve Langford through tears.

“I saw the child on the ground where he’s getting CPR assistance,” a witness told Langford.

Diarrassouba was rushed to Harlem Hospital where he later died, police said.

Eileen Lehpamer of 1010 WINS spoke exclusively to school crossing guard Flavia Roman who, in tears, said she was on a five-minute bathroom break when the boy was hit.

Lehpamer: “Did you see it happen?”
Guard: “No I was in the personal.”

Lehpamer: “You were where?”
Guard: “In the personal.”

Lehpamer: “Oh, you mean you took a break?”
Guard: “No. I was in the bathroom.”

She said she is the only crossing guard for that intersection. The tractor-trailer stopped about two blocks away.

Chris Roberts, a passenger in the truck, said they thought the intersection was clear until a man came running up to them.

“He was like hysterical. He said, ‘You know a kid got hurt back there,’ so we pulled the truck over and got out,” he told CBS 2’s Alice Gainer. “We didn’t realize anything had happened.”

The truck driver was given several summonses, including one for failure to yield. No criminal charges were filed, police told CBS 2.

Crossing guards are entitled to breaks but they must alert their supervisor when they take one, CBS 2’s Langford reported. It is not clear in this case if that happened.

But the NYPD has suspended the 55-year-old Roman for leaving her post without notifying a supervisor, CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez reported.

Some parents said they rarely saw her.

“We’re told there’s usually a crossing guard here in the morning,” said parent Aurelio Carbente. “We don’t see any.”

Other parents said Roman took her job seriously and should not be punished.

“This is her job, she loves her job and she loves children.  I talk to her all the time.  I’m just shocked.  Things happen, but it’s not her fault,” said Quanda Green.

Many parents said dealing with the loss of a child on her watch may be the toughest punishment of all.

There will be grief counselors at the school for students and staff.

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