Last year, over 500 family, friends, and community members filled the street to mourn the victims of the fatal car crash that happened on Halloween evening. This year, an official memorial has been added on the corner of Bogart Avenue and Morris Park Avenue.
In an effort to promote a safer environment, a section of Morris Park Avenue was closed from Colden Avenue to Paulding Avenue for trick-or-treaters. This was made possible by elected officials Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj and Michael Benedetto, Senator Jeff Klein, the 49th precinct, along with the Morris Park Association and Bronx Community Board 11.
The memorial for the three victims was surrounded by candy as children paid their respects by giving up a piece of candy or a small toy. A few feet away prayer candles were lit at the original crash site. Two blocks away children were dancing to music in the street and enjoying hay rides while police kept a watchful eye on the closed off block.
In 2015 Louis Perez, 65, and his granddaughter, Nyanna Aquil, 10, were trick-or-treating when a Dodge Charger careened off the road on Bogart Avenue and Morris Park Avenue before hitting the group. Louis was able to push his other granddaughters, Sanaya, 8, and Yasmina, 3, out of the car’s way.
Kristian Leka, 24, was also fatally struck when he was out with his younger sister, Fiona, 10. Family members of Leka said that he and his sister were, “inseparable, very close” and that he saved his sister by pushing her out of the way. Fiona suffered a broken arm. Also with them was Greta Luka, who suffered minor injuries.
The driver of the Dodge Charger, Howard Unger, 53, was charged last week with three counts each of second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide on charges he had failed to take his epilepsy medications. Unger was also charged with three counts of second-degree assault, second-degree reckless endangerment and making false statements according to a release by the Bronx District Attorney’s Office.
A blood sample taken from Unger as he was in the hospital lacked the presence of epilepsy medication in his system and it is suspected that he did not take his medicine for at least two or three days before the tragedy.
“This defendant is accused of failing to take medication which enables him to drive safely, and it led to three needless deaths and countless heartbreak for the victims’ families.” said Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark.