NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A funeral for a little boy who was killed when an SUV crashed into a Bronx restaurant was held on Wednesday, the same day the driver charged in his death faced a judge.
The little white casket came out of the hearse in front of St. Michael’s Church in Co-Op City, carrying the body of 7-year-old Ethan Villavicencio.
A few feet away, wearing T-shirts and holding his picture, relatives and loved ones consoled each other as they walked in for the little boy’s funeral. Parishioners who didn’t even know the victim came to offer the family support, CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reported.
At the same time, in a Bronx courtroom, Kwasi Oduro, the man accused of hitting and killing the little boy, had a brief court appearance.
“There’s very little we can say at this point for the family to feel better. Of course, everyone here is terribly upset at what happened,” Oduro’s attorney said.
The crash happened at around 5:30 p.m. last Thursday at Kennedy’s Chicken and Sandwiches on Westchester Avenue by Bruckner Boulevard. Police said 73-year-old Oduro was behind the wheel of a Mercedes SUV when he smashed through the glass, hitting the little boy, his father and 5-year-old sister.
All three were taken to the hospital, where Ethan died from his injuries, police said.
“He was everything to us,” said Ethan’s aunt, Taisha Alameda. “Everywhere he would go, he would make us laugh. He was the sun of our family. What are we going to do without him?”
Ethan’s mother, Natasha Villavicencio, broke down last week at a makeshift memorial for her son on the sidewalk.
Investigators said Oduro hit the gas instead of the brake while parallel parking. Prosecutors said when Ethan’s father yelled to Oduro “Move forward! Move forward! You’re on my kids,” Orduro drove off and did not stop despite a restaurant worker opening his door.
Police arrested Orduro two blocks away. He was charged with three counts of leaving the scene of an accident.
Orduro was described by his attorney as a church elder and a father of two who came from Ghana and put himself through college driving a taxi.
Oduro posted bail, set at $10,000, and was released. He is due back in court on July 9, Grymes reported.
His fellow church members were in court to offer support, while parishioners at St. Michael’s offered prayers for Ethan’s heartbroken family.
“We prayed for the Lord to give them comfort and strength to get through all this now. I know it’s very hard,” Blanca Alicea said.