Community Mourns 4-Year-Old

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Ariel Russo was killed by an SUV last week while walking to school on Upper West Side

Franklin Reyes, 17, didn't have a license to drive the car that killed 4-year-old Ariel Russo and injured her grandmother on the way to Ariel's pre-k class at the Holy Name School on the Upper West Side. On Tuesday morning, June 4, Reyes was heading to one of the last days of the school year when he made an illegal turn from the far lane in search of parking. The police stopped him, and, fearing the $200 fine, Reyes fled north up Amsterdam Avenue. He lost control of the black Nissan Frontier 11 blocks later on 97th street, slamming into the ground floor of an apartment building at 34 mph, Newsday reported.

The 17-year-old is taking full responsibility for the charges.

The community mourned the death of Ariel, which Reyes' attorney labeled "an unfortunate accident," at a service on Wednesday, June 4. Family, friends, and the larger school community came to the Church of the Holy Name of Jesus to grieve the loss. Father Dan Kenna led the memorial mass and spoke directly to Ariel's young classmates. The New York Post reported Father Kenna told the congregation: "Comfort Ariel's mom and dad and brother, all of her friends and classmates, and those who care for her and love her."

Flowers and candles mark the spot of the crash.

--Jake Orbison

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