A 10-year-old boy was hospitalized with serious injuries after an SUV hit him as he headed to his school bus Friday morning in Kings Park, officials said.
The driver, who hit the boy as he was crossing the street, ignored the flashing red lights and activated stop sign on the bus, Suffolk County police said.
The accident is under investigation, and it is possible the driver, Pasquale Izzo, 81, of Kings Park could be charged with a crime, police said.
The boy, Ian Palencia-Mendoza, a sixth-grader at William T. Rogers Middle School, suffered a broken leg, said his sister, Jessica Palencia, 21.
Ian was airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital. Police said his injuries were serious but not life-threatening.
“The first thing he said was, ‘I can’t play football anymore?,’ ” Palencia said of her brother, the youngest of four siblings.
“He walks to the bus stop every day, he knows how to follow the rules and it was just in an instant. Nobody was expecting it.”
Police said Izzo was driving a 1998 Dodge Durango north on First Avenue at 7:54 a.m., approaching Carlson Avenue, when he passed the bus and hit the boy as he crossed First Avenue to get to the bus, which was facing south.
It is against the law in New York to pass a stopped school bus that has activated its red flashing lights.
“Mr. Izzo claimed that he did not see the red flashing lights or the stop sign,” said Suffolk County Police Chief of Department Stuart Cameron, who added that the force of the hit threw the victim against the bus.
The boy suffered a broken left femur, Cameron said.
“The bus stopped, put its lights on,” Kings Park Central School District Superintendent Timothy T. Eagen said. “The bus stop is on the far side of the street. As the child started walking across the [bus] driver said she noticed that the oncoming car was not stopping — and said she hit her horn and yelled.
“The car did not stop and hit the boy.”
The SUV remained at the scene after the accident.
Eagen said his school district operates its own school bus fleet and has its own bus drivers. The district has not released the identity of the bus driver, though Eagen said she is a “veteran driver” in the district.
“The whole transportation staff is shaken,” he said. “We’re all praying for the boy.”
Eagen said normally five children waited at that bus stop, but all those children were not there Friday. Desiree Quinn, mother of twin seventh-graders who usually board the bus at that stop, said she drove her children to school Friday morning so her kids weren’t at the stop.
“It’s heartbreaking,” she said. “I can’t believe it.”
Kings Park Second Assistant Chief James Purser said the boy suffered serious injuries, but said he did not believe any of those injuries to be life-threatening.
Eagen said he was told emergency responders — one of whom just happens to be a substitute bus driver for the district — decided to airlift Ian to Stony Brook because they feared he might have internal injuries.
The accident is at least the second involving a student being struck by a vehicle en route to a Long Island school so far this school year, which is just two weeks old.
Last week, a 14-year-old girl was struck and critically injured when she was hit by a car near Foxhurst Road and Harvey Avenue in Oceanside as she walked to the high school, where she is a freshman.
Eagen said Kings Park district officials have reached out to the injured boy’s family. He said the district issued a statement to parents on the district website, explaining the circumstances of the accident. “Effective immediately, the bus has been rerouted in an effort to try to reduce any potential future tragic accident at this location,” the statement said.
Eagen also said there are plans to provide additional training and reminders to students about bus stop safety — reminding them that “motorists are not always going to do what you think they’re going to do.”
As Eagen said: “Safety is everybody’s primary concern . . . We’re wishing the boy a quick recovery.”