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Father of 9-year-old Killed on Northern Boulevard to Mayor: ‘Words are not going to heal my pain’

Clockwise: Giancarlo, Johnathon, Karen Manrique and Giovanni (Facebook)

May 2, 2018 By Tara Law

The father of the 9-year-old boy killed by an elderly driver while crossing Northern Boulevard Monday is calling on the city to make the road safer.

Raul Ampuero’s son was struck dead by a Jeep Compass Monday while walking across Northern Boulevard near 70th Street. The boy, Giovanni Ampuero, was pronounced dead at Elmhurst General Hospital and his mother, Karen Manrique, who was walking with him, was left unscathed.

Now Raul Ampuero is asking the city to install more speed cameras, reduce the speed limit on Northern Boulevard and hire more crossing guards. According to Ampuero, the city has prioritized cars and other “material things” over safety for too long.

“Words are not going to heal my pain,” Ampuero said. “This shouldn’t happen to anyone.”

The driver, Juan B. Jimenez, 86, fled the scene after striking Giovanni and was later charged with leaving the scene of an accident, failure to yield to a pedestrian and failure to exercise due care, police say.

Giovanni was the fifth victim under 18 to have been killed on Northern Boulevard in the last six years.

Miguel Torres, 11, was killed by a dump truck as he was crossing 80th street to get to school on Dec. 27, 2012. Olvin Jahir Figueroa, 3, was killed by a drunk driver while walking with his mother across Junction Boulevard on Oct. 12, 2013. Noshat Nahian, 8, was killed while walking with his 11-year-old sister near 61st street on Dec. 20, 2013.  And Ovidio Jaramillo, 17, was killed near Junction Boulevard while walking home from a funeral on Dec. 9, 2015.

It is Ampuero’s goal to make sure that Giovanni is the last child to die this way on Northern Boulevard.

Ampuero wants to meet with the mayor to discuss the importance of making the streets safer and make him aware of the gravity of his loss.

He remembers Giovanni as a gentle boy who loved his older brothers— Giancarlo, 14, and Johnathon, 20— and had a “special gift” for making babies happy.

Giovanni (Facebook)

“I’m proud to be his dad, and I’m proud that God gave him to me for nine years,” Ampuero said.

Ampuero plans to attend a vigil from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. this Saturday in front of I.S. 230, 74-10 34th Ave, which is is intended to honor Giovanni and to draw attention to the dangers of Northern Boulevard

The event is being hosted by street safety organizations Make Queens Safer, Families for Safe Streets and Transportation Alternatives’ Queens Volunteer Committee.

“It was a preventable death,” said Cristina Furlong, co-founder of Make Queens Safer and a Jackson Heights resident. “It’s such a horrible slap in the face to people who are working for safe streets.”

While Queens Boulevard, the notoriously dangerous “Boulevard of Death,” has become safer since the implementation of Vision Zero, Northern Boulevard has continued to claim lives, Furlong said.

“It’s the new ‘Boulevard of Death,’” Furlong said. “You would think people would’ve gotten the message by now.”

Now, Furlong is renewing her call for the city to install more speed cameras along Northern Boulevard and to bring the street up to the Vision Zero Design Standard— a set of guidelines designed to maximize street safety. It is time to end the city’s “piecemeal reaction to tragedy,” said Furlong.

Furlong feels a special sense of urgency because she is the mother of her own 9-year-old son. Although Furlong speaks to him frequently about street safety, she feels that it is impossible to protect him completely from dangerous drivers.

“There’s not much I can do to protect him from a reckless driver, except to make him hyper vigilant,” said Furlong.

A fundraiser has also been set up by Michelle Rhee, a friend of Giovanni’s mother, to cover the family’s funeral and other expenses. The fundraiser has collected 101 donations worth a total of $7,590.

Twitter @makequeenssafer

email the author: [email protected]

14 Comments

Ann Cream

I’d like to outlaw the cynical parading of private grief in order to push an unpopular political agenda. Northern Blvd was the first car capital of America before the industry moved to Detroit. All those beautiful buildings being restored for various uses were car factories and automotive industry supply factories. Maybe that is why Queens has historically been a transit desert, it was developed with the car in mind. Extracting the car will require such massive reengineering, I can’t even imagine. People didn’t often cross Northern Blvdi this part of Queens because neighborhoods were more self contained. Everyday needs were taken care of in a few blocks. Steinway was mostly for Astorians. Green point was for Sunnysiders. Rooosevelt for Woodsiders. If you needed something special, you went into the city. The problems started when they put retail on the south side of Northern. It became a regional draw and created the roblematic traffic patterns you see today. Redevelopment caused the problem and they are blaming cars for it. Shame on them.




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Carbie Barbie

So all that engineering around car culture is okay, but trying to engineer it to make it safer is not. Gotcha.




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Steven

What is wrong with you?
Did you read the part where a kid died? And a family has been destroyed? Are you serious? Your lack of empathy’s is appalling.




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Annab

Ann Cream – that makes NO sense. People didn’t cross the buildings on their way to work in the factories you describe? There were pedestrians when people were working in those factories, there are pedestrians now. These cars are not yielding to pedestrians (as is the law), a video of one boy who was struck showed him obeying the stop signs and looking both ways before he crossed, but a van sped on the turn. Drivers need to obey the speed limit, yield to pedestrians at cross walks, not run red lights, and not drive drunk! All completely normal things to expect that should be enforced. Retail isn’t running people down in the street – cars are.




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Sad

Northern Blvd. has become the new “Blvd. of Death”! I HATE driving Northern Blvd. and walking cross Northern Blvd. There is NO enforcement of any laws! Seniors and any other drivers should have to renew their licenses more often. I am both a senior and a driver. I remember being stopped, on Northern Blvd. and Woodside Avenue for a “spot check” about ten years ago, with other drivers. Checked for license, registration, insurance, and use of seat belt. I WAS VERY ANNOYED with the police! Now I believe this practice should be reinstated. This will save lives. Rest in peace young Giovanni, the world is a sadder place without you,




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Al

I’m sorry he died but I am not sadder. The parents will get over it. They will have another kid possibly 2.




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Annab

Al, you are a sick individual. I can’t believe the moderators approved this sick, sick comment.




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caring parent

Perhaps they should establish also an age limit for walking home alone.




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Carbie Barbie

This child wasn’t walking home alone.

“The boy, Giovanni Ampuero, was pronounced dead at Elmhurst General Hospital and his mother, Karen Manrique, who was walking with him, was left unscathed.”




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johnny

Speeding, Racing and Rallying is out off control. Fines should be doubled for a start, Points scheme has to be looked into as well, The tests drivers have to do before getting a license is another huge problem, No disrespect but people arrive here one day and are driving the next, That is a major cause off the recent upsurge off accidents, People just do not know how to drive or know the rules of the road.




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John O'Reilly

Condolences to the family of this young man. Nothing is more horrible than losing a child. The article does not mention whether an investigation is being conducted by the Police Department. Has an investigation been conducted and were the results released? A program for improvement would benefit from an understanding of the causes of this tragedy.




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