Ibrihim Ahmed, of 79th Street in Ozone Park, a fourth-grader at Public School 63, was running west on Rockaway Boulevard to get to the other side of the street before the light changed shortly after 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 6, when the black RV advertising Mike Ricatto’s campaign hit him as it was heading north, according to police.
Ricatto, 52, a Republican and Queens businessman who operates transmission and engine dealerships as well as the Whiskey Bar in Flushing, is campaigning in a special election to fill the seat vacated by Addabbo, who was recently elected to the State Senate.
A witness to the accident told a newspaper reporter that he saw the RV trying to beat a yellow light as the boy rushed to cross several lanes of traffic.
Police said Ibrihim suffered a serious head wound and was declared dead at the scene by EMS personnel.
The driver of the RV, Alexander Aponte, 22, of Manhattan, was arrested after authorities found that he had a suspended license, according to a police spokesperson. He was charged with one count of aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and failure to yield the right of way.
Aponte was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on January 7 before Judge Suzanne Melendez on a misdemeanor charge of driving without a license. Bail was set at $5,000 and Aponte is due back in court on January 14.
Following the incident Ricatto released a statement announcing the suspension of all campaign activities until further notice.
“This evening I am deeply saddened that a heartrending accident occurred involving my campaign bus and driver,” read the statement. “My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the child whose life was taken in this tragic accident. I have children of my own and can’t imagine the pain of losing a child in an accident like the one that occurred today.”
Ricatto suspended his campaign after the accident, but resumed activities on Saturday, January 10. His spokesman said they waited until after the child’s funeral to resume campaigning.