What to Know
- A 61-year-old Yonkers man has been indicted on manslaughter and other charges in the 2019 death of a toddler who was walking with his mother in an East Harlem crosswalk, prosecutors said
- The mother was walking with her son in the crosswalk near First Ave and 116th St at the time of the 9:30 a.m. accident, shortly after the two had breakfast at a nearby Dunkin' Donuts shop
- Witnesses described a horrific scene at the time; prosecutors say the Yonkers man was driving with a suspended license and made a fast left turn, slamming into the mother and child that day
A 61-year-old man has been indicted in the death of a 3-year-old boy whom he allegedly hit in a Manhattan crosswalk while driving with a suspended license more than a year ago, prosecutors said Wednesday. The toddler's mother, who had been walking with her son at the time, was injured but survived.
The two had just finished up breakfast at a nearby Dunkin' Donuts on Dec. 9, 2019 and were in the crosswalk at the intersection of East 116th Street and First Avenue in East Harlem around 9:30 a.m. when both were hit by a pickup truck. The 3-year-old, Bertin DeJesus, was declared dead less than an hour later.
According to the Manhattan district attorney's office, Jamie Sabogal was the driver who made a fast left turn and struck them. Sabogal is now charged in a New York Supreme Court indictment with second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, among other offenses, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance announced Wednesday.
"Not only was the defendant driving recklessly with no regard for pedestrians, but he did so knowing his driver’s license had been suspended. This type of abhorrent conduct is why my office is pushing for legislation that enhances criminal accountability for vehicular violence and keeps reckless drivers off the road," Vance said in a statement. "We can never bring back Bertin, whose young life was cut so unthinkably short, but we can and will seek justice in this case and work to prevent future tragedies in his memory.”
In addition to manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges, Sabogal is accused of assault, aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, failure to exercise due care as a driver and violating the right of way of pedestrians. Attorney information for the Yonkers man wasn't immediately available.
Disturbing surveillance video captured the moment of impact. The driver immediately stopped and ran to the child, as did other witnesses.
"He was there banging his head and crying; he was banging his head on the truck and everything," said witness Adrian Cruz, who called 911 from the scene that day.
Witnesses described a gut-wrenching scene.
"I heard horrifying screams," Erika Sallen said at the time. "People just screaming at the top of their lungs. People screaming, 'The baby! The baby!'"
Another woman, Marisol Medina, said she had trouble convincing the mother to let emergency responders even take her son to a hospital -- she was so stunned by grief. Medina also happens to work at the Dunkin' Donuts where the mother and son had stopped for breakfast shortly before the deadly crash.
Medina said the mom always ordered a bagel and cream cheese -- "and hash browns for the baby because he loves hash browns."
Heartbreaking images from the scene showed NYPD combing the area where a single empty stroller remained in the middle of the street, taped off by police tape