Despite heroic efforts by a group of passers-by, the 12-year-old bicyclist who was freed from beneath a car on Sheridan Drive in the Town of Tonawanda Thursday afternoon has died, police reported Friday.
The boy has been identified as Imani Gilbert, an incoming eighth-grader at Herbert Hoover Middle School.
Imani was on his way to football practice at the nearby middle school when he was struck and pinned beneath the vehicle while crossing Delaware Road at the intersection with Sheridan Drive, Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District officials confirmed. Several passers-by lifted the vehicle off the boy and he was taken to Women & Children’s Hospital.
Among the first on the scene to free Imani were police detectives Ray Marello and Kevin Sweeney and Ellwood Volunteer Fire Company Chief Gary Stuff who joined other witnesses to lift the dark blue Pontiac Vibe, said Lt. Nicholas A. Bado, a department spokesman.
Although police are continuing to investigate the fatal accident, no charges have been filed against the driver, and there was no indication that the motorist, whose name wasn’t released, was at fault, police said. There was no drug, alcohol or cellphone use involved, police said. Further, the driver had the green arrow to turn left onto Sheridan Drive and Imani was not wearing a helmet, Bado said.
The district, meanwhile, was shaken by news that one of its students had been killed in an accident just weeks before school resumes on Sept. 5.
“We’re very familiar with the student – very well-liked, very good student, very involved,” said Carmelina Persico, principal of Hoover Middle, where Imani also played basketball.
Grief counselors from the district’s Family Support Center were made available to the boy’s teammates during a meeting Friday morning, said School Superintendent Mark P. Mondanaro.
“We dispatched grief counselors immediately to deal with any groups of children and adults that knew the child and help them deal with this loss,” said School Board President Bob Dana.
Funeral arrangements were incomplete as Imani’s mother was traveling back from out of town. Persico said she will confer with students about holding a memorial service.
“I think I will give students an opportunity to have that discussion and take part in whatever decision is made,” she said. “Certainly those conversations will take place.”