Teen Driver Getting Lesson From Mom Kills Boy: Police

A tragic accident in Floral Park kills a 9-year-old on his bike

By Greg Cergol
|  Friday, May 13, 2011  |  Updated 8:34 PM EDT
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Tragic Driving Lesson on Long Island

Driver error is the likely cause, police said.

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A teen's driving lesson with her mom turned to tragedy on Thursday when the 16-year-old with a new learner's permit struck a woman and her young son riding his bike in Floral Park, killing the youngster, police said Friday.

The out-of -control Nissan SUV struck Kathy Burrous, 49 and her son, Andrew, at the corner of Plainfield Avenue and Martha Terrace. The elder Burrous was only grazed by the vehicle and wasn't seriously hurt but her son was struck directly and was later pronounced dead at a local hospital, police said.

Tony Blas, a Martha Terrace resident, held the dying boy in his arms after the crash.

"I told him to hang on, buddy.  You're going to be okay," a tearful Blas said while sitting on his porch. "To see somebody like that is hard.  I tried. I really tried."

The SUV's driver was an unidentified teen who had received her learner's permit about two weeks ago, according to Nassau county police.  At the time of the crash, her mom was giving her a driving lesson.

The cause of the accident appeared to be driver inexperience. 

"Possibly hitting the gas instead of the brake," said Sgt. Ronald Gagliano of the Floral Park Police Department.  "That's all we can figure at this time."

The driver was making a turn onto Martha Terrace when she lost control, police said.  She also struck another car, pushing it some 50 feet. No criminal charges have been filed against the driver.

"Mother and daughter are extremely distraught," said Nassau police detective sergeant Richard Callahan.  "It's a tragic accident for both sides."

Family and friends left flowers and tears at the crash site Friday.  A prayer service is scheduled for tonight at Our Lady of Victory Church in Floral Park.

"I'm surprised we don't hear of accidents like this more often," said veteran driving instructor Howard Rosenberg of the AA All County Driving School in Hicksville.

Parents should seek professional instruction for their teen drivers, Rosenberg said.  The cost for a one hour lesson is about $60.  And Rosenberg's cars have a safety device typical cars don't- a passenger side brake pedal.

"If you're practicing with someone and you don't have that brake pedal, you're taking a tremendous chance," said Rosenberg.

Police refused to say it's wrong for parents to practice with young drivers.  It's a dilemma many face every day, they acknowledged.

"Do you ever really know if they're ready until they're put in a situation on the road?" asked Det. Sgt. Callahan.

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