A large crowd of mourners assembled Sunday night at a Bronx street corner for a candlelight vigil for the three victims killed there by a careening car on Halloween.
Natalia Perez grieved the deaths of her 10-year-old daughter and her 65-year-old father.
"She was the perfect child. She never gave me any problems. She was like an angel," Perez said of her daughter, Nyanna Aquil, who was struck shortly before 5 p.m. when the vehicle plowed into a small group of Halloween trick-or-treaters at the intersection of Morris Park and Radcliff avenues.
Nyanna was in the group with her two sisters and her grandfather, Louis Perez, who had taken the girls out near their home for a second round of trick-or-treating while their mother, a makeup artist, was at work.
When the car came speeding onto the sidewalk, Natalia Perez said, her father was killed while pushing 8-year-old Sanaya Aquil out of harm's way. The youngest sister, 3-year-old Yasmina Aquil, was thrown from her stroller and suffered a minor neck injury along with bumps and bruises.
Nyanna was not able to escape the path of the car, which bumped the rear of another vehicle and crossed into the oncoming lane before launching onto the sidewalk. She was rushed to Jacobi Medical Center, where doctors operated on her, but she died of internal bleeding, her mother said.
Another person caught up in the crash, 24-year-old Kristian Leka, also died at Jacobi Medical Center. Yasmina, the driver and two others were taken to the hospital with injuries not believed to be life threatening, authorities said.
Investigators were looking into the possibility that the car's driver had suffered a seizure, police said Sunday.
Perez, who took care of the girls full-time while their single mother was at work, was a Vietnam veteran and recipient of a Purple Heart. "Papa," as the girls called him, picked them up from school, cooked their dinner, gave them baths, helped with homework, and made popcorn for movie nights, his daughter said. He was completely devoted to them, she said.
When they left to go trick-or-treating, Nyanna was dressed as a cat and had a nose and whiskers painted on her face. Not long after, Natalia Perez received a phone call from police telling her she needed to go to the hospital.
"Nyanna was a diamond," her mother said, adding that she was a straight-A student who loved school and was always helping with her sisters. She was kind, generous and good-natured, her mother said.
"I had a lot of dreams for Nyanna. I had so many plans for her," her mother said. Now, instead, she is planning a funeral for both her daughter and father.
"I'm at peace that they are in heaven together," she said.