On Halloween, a day of trick or treating turned into a terrible nightmare, that left three dead, including a 10-year old girl.
On Saturday, October 31 at 4:53 p.m. an out-of-control vehicle went air born near the intersection of Morris Park and Bogart avenues, mounted the sidewalk and struck several individuals celebrating the holiday.
Police officers from the 49th Precinct discovered Louis Perez, 65, of 755 Morris Park Avenue, unconscious and unresponsive having sustained servere head trauma after being hit by a black 2011 Dodge Charger.
Five others were also hit, before the car slammed through a fence.
EMS responded to the accident and pronounced Perez dead at the scene, police said.
Twenty-four-year old Kristian Leka, of 1733 Unionport Road, and 5th grader Nyanna Aquil of 716 Morris Park Avenue, were transported to Jacobi Medical Center where they were pronounced dead.
Perez’s three-year old granddaughter, Jasmina Aquil; Kristian’s nine-year old sister, Fiona Leka and Kristian’s fiancée, 21-year old Greta Leka were transported to Jacobi Medical Center to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
All three have since been released from the hospital.
Eight-year old Sanaya Aquil was trick or treating with her family, but was unharmed due to her heroic Vietnam War veteran grandfather pushing her away from the oncoming car.
Howard Unger, 52, the driver was transported by EMS to Jacobi Medical Center where he is listed in stable condition.
According to an NYPD spokesman, an investigation into incident revealed Unger was traveling westbound on Morris Park Avenue when he bumped the rear of a Toyota Camry.
His car then veered over the double yellow line and continued traveling westbound on Morris Park Avenue. It then mounted the sidewalk and struck six pedestrians before crashing through a brick wall and a fence at 936 Morris Park Avenue.
Police added the investigation is still on going and is being conducted by the NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad.
Local residents and elected officials paid their respects to the three victims and offered their prayers to those injured in Saturday’s tragedy in a well-attended somber Sunday, November 1 candlelight vigil at Morris Park and Bogart avenues.
A makeshift memorial for the victims has grown at the site.
“This horrible incident literally happened about a block away from my private real estate office,” said Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj. “I’ve known the Leka family for many years and I’ve come to develop a relationship with the Perez family during this difficult time.
“As a community, we pray that God will give them the strength and faith to get through this,” he added.
According to Gjonaj, he is working with Mayor de Blasio, Congressman Joseph Crowley, Borough President Ruben Diaz, Senator Jeff Klein, Councilman James Vacca and Assemblyman Michael Benedetto in the coming weeks and months to have Morris Park and Bronxdale avenues to Williamsbridge Road closed next Halloween until 6 p.m. so children and their families can safely enjoy the day and honor the victims’ memories.
In Throggs Neck, a makeshift memorial for Nyanna was created by Pink Shisha Beauty Bar clients and employees outside of the 3604 E. Tremont Avenue business where Aquil’s mother, Natalia Perez, has worked as a makeup artist since April 2015, according to Perez’s sister, Milly Lopez.
She added Perez would often bring her daughters, Nyanna, Jasmina and Sanaya, to her work.
“Natalia lives for her daughters and they are her pride and joy,” said Lopez. “Nyanna was a beautiful girl so full of life and would dance every chance she had. She always said that she wanted to become a Disney actress one day and that’s why she loved dancing so much.”
Leka was waked on Tuesday, November 3 at Farenga Brothers Funeral Home and a Mass at Our Lady of Shkodra Church in Hartsdale was held for him the next day. Leka was laid to rest at the Gates of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne.
Aquil and Perez will be waked at McNulty Funeral Home at 3006 Middletown Road on Friday, November 6 from 3 to 8 p.m. and Mass will be held the next day at Harvest Fields Community Church at 2626 E. Tremont Avenue at 10 a.m.
Both will be laid to rest at St. Raymonds Cemetery.
Mourners are asked to wear sky blue or turquoise blue in memory of Aquil – her favorite colors.
GoFundMe pages for both families were created to help pay for funeral expenses and donations can be made to the ‘Fundraiser for Kristian Leka’ by visiting www.gofun
Donations will also be accepted at the Morris Park Community Association located at 1824 Bronxdale Avenue on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Monday through Friday 5 to 8 p.m. and weekends 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.