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Hempstead school crossing guard fatally hit by truck, police say

Hempstead Village police Chief Michael McGowan addresses the press about the circumstances surrounding the death of a longtime police crossing guard known affectionately to the children she served as “Miss Carol” while on duty in Hempstead on Oct. 28, 2016. (Credit: News 12 Long Island)

A longtime police crossing guard known affectionately to the children she served as “Miss Carol” was struck by a tractor trailer and killed Friday morning while on duty in Hempstead, Village officials and police said.

Hempstead Village police and Nassau County police said the circumstances of the tragic accident remain under investigation.

Virginia Leviner, a Hempstead Village police crossing guard for 28 years, would have turned 67 on Wednesday.

“This has been a tragic blow to the entire Village of Hempstead community,” village Mayor Wayne Hall said, adding: “Crossing guards put their lives on the line to protect our children.”

The entire Leviner family was present at a Friday news conference, holding each other in the hallways of Hempstead Village Hall as police shared details.

Hempstead police Chief Michael McGowan said the fatal accident occurred at South Franklin Street and Grove Street about 7:30 a.m. The tractor trailer was headed east on Grove and had turned right onto South Franklin when the rear trailer struck Leviner, who he said was standing in the street but not in the crosswalk, knocking her to the ground.

Preliminary indications, McGowan said, are that Leviner struck her head in a fatal fall.

McGowan said the tractor trailer driver, whose identity was not released, stopped at the scene — and said that a passenger in that truck got out, moving Leviner from the street. Leviner was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

The driver has not been charged.

“School crossing guards are in danger,” McGowan said. “Standing in streets and crossing streets is dangerous.”

Leviner was deeply committed to her job, family members said. She worked each morning, no matter the weather, at the same busy intersection, helping children from Grove Elementary School, ABGS Middle School and Hempstead High School cross the street safely.

“There were days I would tell her, ‘Maybe you should sit this one out,’ ” said her husband, Tallie Leviner, 68. “She would say ‘No, no, no, I gotta help my kids.’ ”

She was warm and loving, her husband said. She would often bring home children who had nothing to eat for meals, he said. Those were the qualities that drew him to her after they first met in Brooklyn in 1963. They married a year later, he said.

Tallie Leviner said he spoke to a man who saw what happened. The man told him that Virginia Leviner had spotted a child in danger and she had run to push the child out of the truck’s way, taking the force of the impact herself.

“My mother was a fighter and unfortunately God gave her her last fight,” said Karen Leviner, 49, Leviner’s eldest daughter.

McGowan said the investigation was ongoing and couldn’t confirm whether the story was true. However, it spread rapidly in the neighborhood.

Richard Sams, who lives a few blocks away, said he heard the story from a witness and it didn’t surprise him. Leviner was often seen physically protecting children from making a mistake in the busy intersection.

Sams, 48, has five children at Hempstead schools. He said he last saw Leviner on Friday morning while driving by on his way to drop his kids off at school.

“Three minutes after I rode past here, she got hit. It broke my heart,” he said. “She didn’t care if she died or lived, she wanted her kids safe.”

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