One year after the death of 3-year-old Maksym Sugorovskiy, his family is taking steps to create a lasting memorial for the little boy, to grow Maksym’s Giving Tree Foundation for the benefit of injured children and to hold accountable those they feel were responsible for the event that claimed his life.
Mary and Vladimir Sugorovskiy recently followed through on their intentions to take legal action against the City of Buffalo, Erie County and Christian P. Myers, the driver of the car that struck and killed Maksym on May 30, 2015 in Delaware Park.
The lawsuit is filed on behalf of the entire family: for the loss of Maksym, for the injuries sustained by his mother and sister, Stephanie, then 5, and for the toll the crash took on Vladimir Sugorovskiy.
The filing does not request a specific amount in damages. Rather, it goes into detail about the conditions that made the horrific situation possible.
The city and county were responsible for the safety of pedestrians using the Ring Road in Delaware Park, the suit alleges, and both neglected to adequately separate the recreational pathway from the expressway traffic speeding around a nearby curve on the Scajaquada Expressway.
There should have been “ample space or protection, such as a physical barrier, to protect pedestrians,” the suit claims, adding that they “failed to mitigate/reduce the danger presented by oncoming traffic.”
Myers reportedly fell asleep at the wheel of his Chevy Malibu, which continued straight into the park where Mary Sugorovskiy was walking with her children after a soccer game.
The crash horrified the community – partly because the victim was so young, partly because it occurred when families were enjoying a public park on a sunny weekend and partly because there had been repeated public campaigns to slow traffic on the Scajaquada Expressway and return the area to its original park design.
After Maksym was killed, authorities listened. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo had the state Department of Transportation lower the speed limit on the entire length of the Scajaquada to 30 mph from 50 mph, and jersey barriers were immediately installed along the park.
Permanent changes to the expressway are now in the works, including a lasting lower speed limit, pedestrian crosswalks and other roadway modifications to protect pedestrians, drivers, and the lightpoles that were routinely felled along the road.
There will also be one addition made to the park on Monday at 6 p.m., when a tree is planted in Maksym’s memory near the crash site in Delaware Park. The Sugorovskiy family will speak and there will be a memorial dedication.
Also, on Friday, Maksym’s Giving Tree Foundation will hold its first public event from 3 to 5 p.m. People are invited to bring gardening tools and join in planting a Kindness Garden at Silo City off Ohio Street.
The garden, to be planted in a custom bed made by Rigidized Metals, will feature impatiens. According to the foundation, two days before he was killed Maksym planted a pink impatiens for his sister, Stephanie. After she was injured in the crash, the 5-year-old spent the summer in rehabilitation and the flower from her brother wilted. But, according to the story, when she finally came home, Maksym’s pink impatiens bloomed once again.
The family has two goals through its projects: to provide schools and other groups with speakers who present the importance of kindness – one of Maksym’s favorite things – and, through Maksym’s Wheel Project, to provide therapeutic bicycles to children who are recovering from injuries or illness, as Stephanie did. More information about the foundation and the events can be found at maksymsgivingtree.org.