Monday, 4 Dec 2023

Heartbreaking vigil held for boy, 7, killed by NYPD tow truck

Heartbreaking scenes as Kamari Hughes, a seven-year-old boy killed by NYPD tow truck, is laid to rest: Family is overcome with grief as tiny casket painted with his hero Spiderman is carried away

  • A heartbreaking vigil was held for Kamari Hughes, 7, on Thursday 
  • The boy was killed on October 26 when he was struck by an NYPD tow truck 
  • The alleged driver, Stephanie Sharp, 54, is now facing charges over his death 

A heartbreaking funeral was held for a seven-year-old boy tragically killed last month when he was hit by an NYPD tow truck. 

The family of Kamari Hughes were greeted by a packed church of well-wishers at the Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Brooklyn, New York, on Thursday, which included New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Attorney General Letitia James. 

The boy’s uncle, DaQuan Askew, told WPIX of his fond memories of Kamari, who he said was ‘very uplifting, very exciting all the time, always thinking it’s playtime.’ 

The Spiderman-obsessed child’s casket was painted in the theme of his favorite superhero, which was loaded into a hearse and watched driven away by his grief-stricken mother, Taqunda. 

‘They took him out like a little king,’ a close family friend added to the outlet. ‘And he deserves that. He was a child, and he didn’t get to live life.’  

Kamari was struck and killed on October 26 as he rode his scooter on the way to school by an NYPD tow truck allegedly driven by Stephanie Sharp, 54. 

A civilian member of the NYPD, Sharp is now facing charges including failing to yield to a pedestrian and failure to exercise due care. 

Kamari Hughes, 7, was tragically killed on October 26 when he was hit by an NYPD tow truck while on his way to school with his mother 

The Spiderman-obsessed boy’s casket was painted in the theme of his favorite superhero, pictured being loaded into a hearse 

New York Attorney General Letitia James hugs Kamari Hughes’ mother Taqunda (center) after NYC Mayor Eric Adams consoled her at the solemn funeral service 

The tragic scenes at the Brooklyn church saw Kamari’s loved ones gather to remember the high-energy youngster. 

‘I remember most him doing backflips playing in the swings, just being vibrant,’ said Shania, another family friend, to PIX11.

She recalled him ‘running around the park enjoying life, being a young boy’, adding that he was a ‘Beautiful young boy. Sweet, sweet, sweet. A sweet young baby.’

The funeral was attended by Mayor Adams after he previously met with Kamari’s mother Taqunda on the day her son lost his life. 

Adams stayed at the funeral for around 20 minutes before exiting the vigil to speak privately with Taqunda. 

New York Attorney General Letitia James stayed for the whole hours-long service and appeared to know many of the boy’s loved ones gathered for the solemn moment. 

The appearance of two of the Big Apple’s highest profile figures was remarked upon by Askew, who reflected on how his nephew left a touching legacy at such a young age. 

‘I have so much great memories of him, he’s still the light of my day for me,’ he said. 

‘Every time I wake up, I still think – he makes me smile. He makes me keep moving. Love your loved ones. Stay close. As you can see from this situation, everything is not promised.’ 

A funeral program from the service showing a beaming Kamari on the cover 

Taqunda Hughes watches her 7-year old son Kamari Hughes’ casket leave during his funeral service on Thursday 

Pallbearers pictured carrying the seven-year-old’s casket out from Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Brooklyn, New York 

Kamari’s loved ones described him as a fun-loving, high-energy child and a ‘sweet young baby’ 

Kamari, a second grader at Brooklyn Prospect Charter School, was tragically killed on his way to school when he was struck by the oncoming NYPD tow truck as he crossed the street on his scooter. 

Officials said the huge tow truck made a right hand turn at around 7:45am, colliding with the boy as he walked with his mother.  

The seven-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene. 

A witness to the impact, Tyrana Carter, told the New York Times that the boy was riding a bright green scooter as his mother pushed another child in a scooter moments before the crash. 

She claimed the driver of the tow truck appeared to be trying to beat a yellow light when she hit the boy. 

‘He was just a baby who was full of energy, full of life,’ Carter said, who knew the boy as her granddaughter went to daycare with Kamari. ‘I saw a future for him.’ 

A witness who heard the impact, Mary Lynne Werlwas, said she could hear the loud commotion at the crosswalk after she had gone to move her car. 

She said a large crowd had surrounded Taqunda as her son was covered in a white sheet, and Werlwas said the distraught mother screamed, ‘My baby is dead.’ 

Werlwas, who lived on the street for 24 years, added at the time: ‘The community, everybody is very upset.’ 

Antwoan Hayes, another witness to the tragedy, said Taqunda Hughes chased the tow truck down the street after the impact, screaming at the driver for killing her baby. 

‘The mother just started screaming at the highest pitch,’ Hayes said. ‘That was heart-wrenching.’ 

In a heartbreaking letter written by Taqunda to her son, the mother repeated their ‘motto’ of ‘Mommy and Kamari forever’ 

Kamari’s obituary said the mother and son were ‘inseparable’ 

In a heartbreaking letter written by Taqunda to her son, the mother repeated their ‘motto’ of ‘Mommy and Kamari forever.’ 

‘You changed my life. You gave me purpose. Joy and unconditional love. You made me a mom. You gave me a reason to live. I watched you be born so quietly,’ the note read. 

‘You took my life by storm. You made me better. I saw you jump and leap from stairs, buildings and anywhere.

‘I saw you flip backwards and forward and climb trees. I watched you eat, write and so many things. I saw you be taken from me.


The phrase ‘Mommy and Kamari forever’ was also included in the boy’s obituary, which said that the mother and son were ‘inseparable.’ 

Taqunda Hughes speaks to NYC Mayor Eric Adams outside the service, after he comforted the mother in the hours after she lost her son last month 

At the time of his death, Kamari was the 73rd pedestrian killed in a traffic collision this year in New York, according to safe-streets group Transportation Alternatives.

The incident sparked a local push to upgrade the safety of NYPD vehicles, with City Councilor Crystal Hudson releasing a statement shortly after criticizing the NYPD for a ‘lack of discipline and care in the field’.

Hudson’s statement cited a separate incident last year when a pedestrian was also killed in her district after being struck by a police van. 

‘This morning we were devastated to learn of the tragic death of one of our youngest neighbors,” Ms. Hudson said. ‘This is the worst possible outcome, and yet we are forced to reckon with it all too often.’ 

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