Driver, 86, in fatal hit-and-run claims he was unaware of crash
An 86-year-old driver accused of fleeing the scene after fatally hitting a 9-year-old boy in Queens claims he didn’t realize he’d struck anybody — and fled because he was being threatened by another driver.
Juan Jimenez allegedly struck Giovanni Ampuero and the boy's mother, Karen Manrique, on 70th St. and Northern Blvd.in Jackson Heights — just steps from the pair's home — about 1:20 p.m. Saturday. He sped off, leaving tragedy in his wake.
Giovanni lay in the roadway, cradled by his panicked mother. "Don't let me go!" the dying boy begged his mom, a witness said.
The boy suffered severe head and body trauma. He was rushed to Elmhurst Hospital, where he died.
The mother and son were in the crosswalk and had the right of way when Jimenez, making a turn, plowed into them in his red 2008 Jeep, according to court papers.
A cab driver who saw the horrific accident followed Jimenez for 10 blocks, flagging him down. Cops arrived and arrested him.
"I'm sorry I hit the kid — I didn't see him," the elderly motorist told cops, according to court papers.
"I was driving home to Manhattan from the casino. I made a left turn on Northern Blvd… when I made the turn a woman jumped in front of my car but I did not hit her."
"I kept driving and a cab driver waved me down and told me I hit someone," Jimenez added. "It was an accident. I didn't mean to hit anyone. I didn't know I hit anyone."
"I didn't run, it was just an accident," he added, when asked why he fled the scene. "I was scared. Some cab driver was threatening me."
Jimenez, who lives in Harlem, was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on charges of leaving the scene of an accident, failure to yield to a pedestrian and failure to exercise due care.
He was ordered held on $20,000 bond.