Youth Charged In 10-Year-Old’s Hit-Run Death
A Queens youth has been indicted for reckless man-slaughter in the hit and run death of a 10-year-old boy who was struck and killed while riding his bicycle in Astoria. Emmanuel Kanios, 19, of 25-39 80th St., Astoria, has been charged in a three-count indictment with manslaughter in the second degree, criminally negligent homicide and leaving the scene of an incident as a felony and faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted. Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said that on April 12, 2003 at about 7:30 p.m. Kanios recklessly caused the death of Stephan Trajkovski, 10, at the intersection of 75th Street and Ditmars Boulevard, Astoria, by operating his Honda sport utility vehicle with criminal negligence. Kanios, who turned himself in to the 114th Police Precinct a few days after the accident, was originally charged with leaving the scene of an accident as a felony. The original charge carried a term of four years in prison upon conviction.
"The 10-year-old victim was riding his bicycle in his Astoria neighborhood when he was struck and fatally injured," Brown said. "The driver is alleged to have left the scene and was arrested several days later. He has now been charged with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, as well as leaving the scene of an accident. The charges are serious and will be vigorously prosecuted." It should be noted that an indictment is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
"I’m pleased that the District Attorney has taken this incident so seriously," Assemblymember Michael Gianaris commented. "When a young boy loses his life like that, it’s appropriate to hold someone responsible." City Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. agreed. "I’m very pleased that District Attorney Brown realizes the seriousness of this matter and is vigorously prosecuting the case," he said.
State Senator George Onorato noted that drivers come off the Grand Central Parkway maintaining highway speed, even though the speed limit on city streets is 30 miles per hour unless otherwise posted. "I know when you’ve been going at 50 or 60 miles an hour, 30 miles an hour feels like you’re standing still," he said. "But pedestrians on city streets have to be protected. It’s one thing to get into a minor accident with another car, but when you hit a person with a 4,000-pound vehicle, especially if you’re going at an excessive rate of speed, you’re putting someone’s life in danger."
"I don’t like to see [Kanios’] life destroyed, as well as that of the Trajkovski boy," Community Board 1 District Manager George Delis said of the upgraded charges. "But these charges should send a message—you’re responsible for your actions behind the wheel. Driving is a privilege, not a right." Onorato concurred. "I’m sure the District Attorney has investigated this situation very thoroughly and has made the best decision to convey the message that drivers have to be responsible," he said.
Kanios was believed to be speeding when his vehicle struck Trajkovski. It was noted that his SUV left a 50-foot-long skid mark on the street and that Trajkovski was sent nearly 70 feet in the air. His severe head injuries as a result of the crash were the immediate cause of his death.
Rose Marie Poveromo, president of the United Community Civic Association, said that the incident was a tragedy for both families—but more so for the family of young Trajkovski. "They’ll never see their son again," she said of the boy’s parents, who took their son’s body back to his native Macedonia for burial. "[Kanios’] parents can visit him in prison if he’s convicted. When he comes out, he can go on with his life. But the boy who died—his parents will never see him graduate, go to college, get married or have children of his own. He’ll never do any of these things." Trajkovski remained in a coma for six days at Elmhurst Hospital Center before succumbing to his injuries.
Poveromo noted that the boy’s death was not in vain, however—after a vigorous campaign on the part of area elected officials and civic leaders, the city Department of Transportation agreed to install a traffic signal at the intersection of 75th street and Ditmars Boulevard. "I’m very pleased we’re getting our light at that corner," she said. At the time of the accident she pointed out that a 10-block stretch of Ditmars Boulevard has no traffic signals and has seen steadily increasing traffic volume. P.S. 2, which Trajkovski attended at the time of his death, is located a block away from the intersection at 75th Street and 21st Avenue, and many parents travel on Ditmars Boulevard to pick up and drop off their children. Also adding to the number of cars on Ditmars Boulevard is the close proximity of Rikers Island. Corrections officers at the city’s huge detention facility find the traffic artery a convenient access route and the absence of signals frequently leads to drivers exceeding the speed limit.
The situation demands the installation of another light at 71st Street and Ditmars Boulevard, Poveromo added. "We’re looking forward to the DOT commissioner getting us another light at 71st and Ditmars," she said. "The street is being turned into a speedway. We really need it."