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7-year-old's love of life rises above tragedy Investigation focuses on what led to crash

State Police are trying to reconstruct the tragic events that led to the fiery, six-car crash that killed Amilcar Hill's "beacon of love."

How and why Asa Hill, a boy who by all accounts lived much in his seven years, died is at the heart of the State Police's ongoing investigation.

One police official said the investigation at this point is focusing on reconstructing the events leading up to Thursday's crash. No charges have been filed.

"He enjoyed being loved," Amilcar Hill said of his son. "He enjoyed being our baby. He enjoyed being our son, I know that for a fact. He told us, I know it's for real. He enjoyed his moments with everyone. That's who he was."

A funeral service for Asa, who died Friday night, is scheduled for 11 a.m. today in the Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo, at Elmwood Avenue and West Ferry Street.

His young son was "a beacon of love," who "enjoyed life," said Amilcar Hill, and he was "coming into his own" the past six months.

Fond of singing and dancing, Asa played an angel in a spring production of "The Green Pastures" at Ujima Theatre, the company co-founded and run by his grandmother, Lorna C. Hill.

This summer, he finished a personal quest to reach 48 inches tall, the minimum requirement to ride a roller coaster at Darien Lake, which he did a few weeks back.

Last week, at his father's request, Asa played host at the family theater company to a 4-year-old girl who, with him, were the only children at an otherwise adults-only dinner party. He graciously walked her around the theater studio for two hours.

"He's just been so good over the month, just good," Hill said of his son. "Every day, consciously working at loving and being good every day."

"I'm so filled up inside I said 'You've been so good every day bro, I'm going to get you this present,' " he said. "So, I got him the GX Skate and GX cars which he had for about 48 hours before we ended up here (at Women and Children's Hospital)."

How Asa ended up there is what State Police are trying to determine.

What they do know is that at about 4:45 p.m. Thursday, six cars collided on the southbound Niagara Thruway near Hamburg Street.

A group of motorists responded immediately and were able to free the driver and two young boys, including Asa, trapped in one of the cars, a crumpled compact.

For the next 24 hours, Asa, the only child of Amilcar Hill and Rahwa Ghirmatzion, remained on life-support. He died Friday night, and his organs were harvested for donation.

Amilcar Hill's father, Michael E. Hill, 55, and younger brother, Tshanolo Hill, 6, also were injured in the crash.

The elder Hill, who reportedly broke several ribs, was in serious condition Sunday at Erie County Medical Center. His son was treated and released, and allowed to visit Asa in his hospital bed Friday.

It's not the first time Asa had been hospitalized at the hospital with a serious medical condition, his father noted. Four years ago, a post-viral infection robbed him of his ability to walk.

"This was a very scary moment for our family," Hill said.

After consultations with doctors and rehabilitation, Asa learned to walk again within two months.

Hill said Asa's strength and love taught the father and son how to appreciate and "live hard every day."

Asa was to enter second grade. He attended kindergarten at Elmwood Village Charter School, his father said, but returned to home schooling for first grade. His life was only beginning.

"Honestly, in the last six months, he was just coming into his own learning how to be truly generous, gracious and humble," his father said. "The loving thing, he's just been doing since the moment he got here."

Thursday morning -- the day of the crash -- Hill said Ghirmatzion was holding Asa, hugging him and kissing him.

"Somehow it got to the point where he was like, 'You think you're going to be hugging and kissing me when I'm 10?'" Hill said of his son.

"She said, 'I'm still going to be hugging and kissing you when you're 21, and your girlfriend probably is going to have a problem with it, but that's going to be how we're going to roll,' and he understood."

e-mail: tpignataro@buffnews.com and pfairbanks@buffnews.com