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The Dyker Heights community gathered Thursday night in memory of 6-year-old Tamy Quema Guachiac, sharing words of desperation to end the tragic killings of people by reckless drivers on the streets.
Young Guachiac was walking home from Leif Erickson Park with her family on Tuesday, August 24, when police announced that she had been killed by a 30-year-old driver who rushed through a red light.
Two nights later, dozens of people gathered at the scene of the crime, reciting prayers and leaving flowers for the young girl. His family were joined at the vigil by their pastor, Reverend Erick Salgado and a list of locally elected officials – including Democratic candidate for mayor and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, State Senator Andrew Gounardes, Assembly members Peter Abbate and Mathylde Frontus and council member Justin Brannan – all of whom have pledged their support.
Abbate told the crowd that the corner where Guachiac was killed was the site of a traffic light that the community has long fought for for more than a decade.
“It took ten years – ten years – to turn on this traffic light that we fought for, and we wanted to put an end to accidents like this,” Abbate said. “I guess that’s not enough, I think the truth really needs to change the culture of driving.”
Gounardes and Frontus both shared that they had experienced road deaths within their own families – Gounardes, 60 years ago when his aunt was killed at just 12, and Frontus just two years ago. when an elderly member of his family was shot and killed.
“My family suffered the loss of a traffic violation two generations ago and this memory is still vivid,” said Gounardes, adding that as a relatively new father, Guachiac’s pain struck again. stronger.
“From the moment I saw the news there was a traffic accident in Dyker Heights… a 6 year old girl was killed, I started to cry,” he said. declared. “And I started to get so angry because each of these traffic accidents – each one – is completely preventable.”
This year is on track to see the highest number of road fatalities during Mayor Bill de Blasio’s tenure, despite the mayor’s vision zero street safety initiative. Street safety advocates have called on city hall to take more drastic measures to reduce the number of road deaths, as the number of motorists in New York City rises during the pandemic.
During Thursday’s vigil, a local lawyer pleaded with Adams in particular to end these types of deaths once and for all.
“Eric Adams has been with our community over these years supporting us, but I ask you on behalf of my son,” said Fabiola Mendieta, a member of the Families for Safe Streets group defending her late son’s name, killed 15 years ago by a reckless driver. “On behalf of Tami, on behalf of our community, we need to change this. We need action.
Adams spoke about the regularity of these kinds of tragedies in the city, and said he hopes the high bail bonds and multiple charges against the driver show that tragedies of this kind can no longer happen in New York City.
“This person is being held on $ 50,000 bond, we have to send the right message that this is not how families should be devastated,” he said, also speaking of the trip Guachiac’s mother took. carried out from Guatemala in 2018 in search of a better life for her. and his daughter that they did not have.
“Here is a family who came to America to live the American dream, only to see it turn into a nightmare because of reckless action,” he said.
Frontus said it was in favor of tougher penalties for road deaths – anything that would prevent them from happening on a regular basis.
“We have to penalize people who are reckless and I’m not that person who wants to throw everyone in jail, but it’s getting really serious,” she said. “So if you need different penalties, if you need stricter rules to make sure people are afraid to do it because they know it’s a high cost, then that’s what ‘it will be necessary.”
Brannan – who himself pledged to do better after being caught speeding in school zones earlier this summer – stressed that it takes a community to ensure safety and that people all have an effect on each other through their actions.
“I realized that when you are driving a car you are not the only person on the planet that matters, you have to remember that we are a city of us and not a city of me”, said Brannan said, “and until everyone understands that it won’t stop until we understand that we are all connected, that lives were shattered on Tuesday night.
Saturday morning, A GoFundMe for the girl’s family raised nearly $ 10,000.