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Aunt says she will raise Bay Shore crash victims' child

The grandaunt of 4-month-old Adali Cortez, whose parents were killed by a car on Sunday as they crossed the street, said she wants to raise the child herself in the wake of the tragedy on Bay Shore's busy Fifth Avenue.

"I would like to keep the baby," said Tomasa Rosado, who is the aunt of Leidy Nohemi Cortez Alvarez, 30, the woman who died along with her live-in boyfriend, Cesar Mejia, 46. "I would like to take care of her. . . . I don't have anybody else, and I don't want her [the baby] to be raised by strangers."

It wasn't clear Tuesday whether Rosado will become the baby's guardian, but the brother of the child's father, Braulia Mejia, said Cesar would be happy if she stayed with his girlfriend's family.

Rosado said the couple had moved into her Heckscher Avenue home three weeks ago. She spoke two days after Alvarez and Mejia were fatally struck by a 2004 Acura that police said was being driven south along Fifth Avenue by Diana Restrepo, 44, of Central Islip.

The couple was crossing the street on their way home at about 7 p.m. at Fifth Industrial Court when the accident happened. No charges or citations have been filed against Restrepo, police said. A man who answered the door at Restrepo's house Tuesday said they would have no comment.

Alvarez and Mejia were pronounced dead at the scene.

Rosado was still incredulous about the deaths even as she made preparations for life ahead with the child - and scrambled to arrange the funeral.

"How could the driver not see them?" she asked aloud. "I don't know anything else from the police. But I need help."

Rosado said that she has contacted the New York-based consulate of Guatemala to request help with expenses and planning for Alvarez's funeral in her home country. The consulate made attorneys available.

"This is a huge loss," she said. "I am traumatized. I've been crying . . . Most of all, I need help in trying to set up a funeral and send Leidy's body back home to Guatemala."

Rosado said Alvarez arrived from Guatemala two years ago and that she didn't have a steady job but baby-sat from time to time. She said Alvarez also has another daughter in Guatemala.

Braulio Mejias said he last saw his brother a few minutes before the accident. "He was hanging out at my house. He seemed happy and we were eating and listening to music."

Braulio Mejia is trying to raise money to send his brother's body back to Honduras, where their mother still lives. "I am working hard to help. My mother is waiting for him," he said.

Rosado said Alvarez's words will comfort her as she takes care of Adali. "Leidy once told me: 'I only have you,' and I said, 'And I only have you,' said Rosado, who works in a plastics factory. "Now, I don't have anyone but this baby."

With Sophia Chang

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