SPRING VALLEY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The tragic death of a child in Rockland County has been compounded by the outrageous theft of money to pay for his funeral.
As CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported, a diverse community has banded together to help the grieving family of 18-month-old Dominic Mero.
Candles were flickering in a Spring Valley parking lot Wednesday in Dominic’s memory. He was run over this past Friday by a pickup truck driver who apparently did not see the boy playing behind him.
Two days after the tragedy came an outrage, as the community launched a modest effort to raise some money for the grieving Mero family. A donation jar at Guzman Deli on Rose Avenue in Spring Valley was brazenly stolen right off the counter.
Police said surveillance video showed 17-year-old suspect Daeshawn Outerbridge slip in, grab the jar, and slip out.
“That money was for a little boy’s family! It’s a shame,” said Crystal Crawford of Spring Valley. “If I was your mother or father, I would tear your behind up!”
The outrage spread across diverse communities in and around Spring Valley. Orthodox Jews – including activist Yossi Gestetner and businessman Benny Polatseck, set up an online donation for the Mero family that took in $800 in less than a day.
“What this initiative is telling the family is that there’s nothing that we can do to bring back little Dominic, but what we can do is to make you feel you’re not alone,” said Rockland County Legislator Aron Wieder (D-13th.)
Jacqueline Jones launched the effort to help the family.
“Love all nationalities – that’s what it says,” she said.
Jones said the theft actually had wonderful consequences. Other delis have now requested jars, which have now collected hundreds and hundreds of dollars.
Together with the money raised online, the Mero family will be able to pay for Dominic’s funeral and burial.
“This is God doing this through me and through my neighbors; the community; other communities,” Jones said.
And the grieving family members told those who came to their aid that they are grateful.
The Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Committee Foundation is accepting donations online to help the Mero family pay for the funeral. Donations can be made at www.ojpacfoundation.org.
Outerbridge was arrested on a misdemeanor petty larceny charge and was arraigned Wednesday in Ramapo, according to a Journal News report.
Dominic’s funeral is set for Friday in Queens, the newspaper reported.
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