Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Editorial: The boy’s run over death spurs scream to retake the streets of Albuquerque

“It’s not even safe to go out as a family anymore.”

– Tina Patel, Director, Montessori ONE Academy

From time to time there is a pointless crime so heartbreaking that it shakes the public up.

Jaqueline Vigil’s murder in the driveway of her home on the West Side in Albuquerque in November 2019 was one. The gruesome murder of 10-year-old Victoria Martens in August 2016 was another.

Of all of the 100+ murders in Albuquerque this year, a record breaking number that has gripped the city and dominated its politics, 7-year-old Pronoy Bhattacharya’s death from hit-and-run on December 12 has unified the public unlike anything we do have seen lately.

The boy’s death sparked an outcry, recent letters to the Journal show. Some of them appear on the opposite page.

The death of a child at this time of year is a particularly terrible tragedy. Pronoys is even more heartbreaking in the circumstances. His family had gone to the River of Lights at the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden almost annually since they moved in 2016. Pronoy sat on Santa’s lap this year and asked about Legos.

Then, when the second grader and his father, holding hands, crossed Central with the right of way, they were hit by an off-road vehicle at around 8:30 p.m. Police say the ATV driver was driving 50 mph in a 35 mph zone when he ran a red light on Central in Tingley before fling west on Central. On Thursday, investigators charged Sergio Almanza, 27, from Belen, with killing with a vehicle, knowingly leaving the scene of the accident and manipulating evidence. He is considered a refugee.

Pronoy, who has been described as precocious, brilliant, curious, and incredibly kind and loving, was either pulled or thrown on impact and pronounced dead on the scene. His father, Aditya Bhattacharya, was treated for facial fractures and other injuries. Pronoy’s mother, Deepshikha, and his four-year-old brother went ahead and luckily they weren’t met. “I’m a doctor and I didn’t think about starting CPR,” said Deepshikha. “All I did was kneel down and scream.”

Tina Patel, founder and director of the Montessori ONE Academy, in which Pronoy participated until last year, spoke in a powerful interview with KOAT-TV. “You always think that when your children are with you, they are safe. It’s the safest place for them. No longer. It’s not even safe to go out as a family anymore. “

The tragedy is compounded by the frustration residents have long taken out over over-speeding vehicles and road races. Local residents have frequently reported downtown ATVs, dirt bikes, and even dune buggies, all of which are allowed to operate illegally on the streets of Albuquerque. Local residents say messages to 242-COPS and 311 are being ignored.

On Monday, APD announced a joint effort with the state Game and Fish to enforce the law. About time. Because while crime is high and we are too few cops, what Councilor Isaac Benton calls our dystopian nightmare “Mad Max” has to end. Meanwhile, the enforcement plan skips why Central and Tingley had no officers stationed to control traffic, as is the case with the Balloon Fiesta and Lobo Basketball.

If tragedy has anything to say, it is that Albuquerque must recapture our streets. This is the least we can do to honor Pronoy and his family.

This editorial first appeared in the . It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than that of the authors.

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