Saturday, March 2, 2013

Dad Doesn't Blame Crossing Guard For Accident That Killed His Son

EAST HARLEM — The father of 6-year-oldAmar Diarrassouba, who was killed by a tractor trailer on his way to school in East Harlem, said he doesn't blame the crossing guard who wasn't at her post when the horrific crash occurred Thursday.

"I don't blame her," Sidiki Diarrassouba said while choking back tears at the family's apartment. "She knew my kid. She loved my kid."

Devastated loved ones said Amar was a "very smart" boy who loved to read the Koran and "liked school."

"He was so smart. He loved everybody," his mother, Mehichata Diarressouba, said Thursday. "He was a wonderful boy."

Flavia Roman, 55, was suspended without pay Thursday evening after investigators found that she wasn't at East 117th and First Avenue earlier that day when a food truck slammed into Amar as he walked to school at P.S. 155 William Pacca with his older brother.

It's still unclear whether Roman was absent the entire morning or had only temporarily stepped away.

"She feels horrible. She's been crying nonstop," said Kevin Faga, Roman's lawyer. "She knew the child. She really liked the child."

Faga declined to say where Roman was when Amar was hit, citing the pending investigation.

Roman, who does not have a disciplinary history, called the local precinct to say she was at her post at 7:30 a.m., according to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. But investigators learned that she wasn't there when she made the call or at the time the accident occurred. 

"If you have to leave you should call back in and say that you're are leaving," Kelly said at an NYPD event Friday afternoon. "It was appropriate to suspend her, in my judgment."

Roman may face internal disciplinary action, but likely won't be brought up on any criminal charges, Kelly said.

The driver of the truck also won't face criminal charges, but has been issued a summons for failing to yield.

Amar's father said he appreciated Roman's service and doesn't hold her accountable for his son's death, echoing a sentiment among the community.

"She has a very good history. She has been on the job for 10 years and she worked on that post, in essence, for 10 years," Kelly said. "She was very well received by the community."

A friend of hers and former crossing guard herself, 65-year-old Felicita Gaston, said Roman was "a good Christian woman."

"She's an awesome person," Gaston said. "I can't say nothing negative about Flavia."

"I know she liked her job," Gaston added. "She took it seriously."

Amar regularly attended weekend classes at the al-Aqsa mosque on Eighth Avenue, near West 116th Street, and loved to read the Koran, according to the imam there, Konate Souleimane.

"He was a regular boy like any boy born in America. He liked school," Souleimane said. "He liked American food — French fries, fried chicken, pizza."

The boy's funeral will be held at the mosque 9 a.m. Sunday morning, Souleimane said.

In the meantime, he said he's doing what he can to help Amar's family.

Friday morning, family and friends flocked to the Diarrassouba household to grieve with the family. Some cooked meals. But little could console Amar's parents.

"Every time I talk about it, I start to cry," Amar's father said. "Allah gave him to me. He's taking him back."

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