A seventh-grader walking to a friend's home Sunday afternoon to work on a school project was struck and killed by a vehicle in West Hempstead, according to family friends and law enforcement.
Thomas Molina Jr., a 12-year-old student at West Hempstead Secondary School, whose family moved to Long Island several years ago from Honduras, was struck shortly before 1 p.m. while crossing Woodfield Road near Lindberg Street, according to Nassau County police and friends of the family.
The boy suffered serious head injuries and was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead, Nassau police said.
The driver of the vehicle, which was traveling south, remained at the scene, police said. The investigation is ongoing, authorities said.
Mary Tator of West Hempstead and her two sons are close with the Molina family and spent the morning at the boy's West Hempstead home, consoling his parents, Marissa and Thomas Sr.
"I bring [Thomas] back to my house to go swimming and he'd have barbecues with us," Tator said. "And I helped register Thomas in school when he first came here. He was a big part of our everyday life and it's just a complete shock."
Thomas was on his way to a friend's house Sunday to work on an assignment because he lacked internet access at home, Tator said. He was expected to call his mother when he arrived, she said.
When Thomas — the couple's only child — never called, Marissa Molina walked toward the scene and found ambulances and police, she said.
In a letter to West Hempstead School District parents, Superintendent Daniel Rehman described Thomas as an "affable, active, and hardworking student" who was quickly learning English and recently passed the state English as a Second Language Achievement Test with high marks.
"His teachers shared how he showed up daily during remote learning and actively participated in the learning process," Rehman wrote. "The Secondary staff was impressed with his good nature and dedication to his studies. Tomas was heading toward the honor roll. Tomas had a huge smile and was always willing to lend a hand to a classmate."
The district will provide counselors, school psychologists and social workers this week to any student or staff member who needs assistance, Rehman said.
West Hempstead parent Emily Aghabi, whose son went to school with Thomas, started a GoFundMe to raise money for the boy's funeral and burial.
"It sounds like the family could really use the help," Aghabi said. "We have a very small tight-knit community here."
With Darwin Yanes