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One month gone: Family, friends gather in Bushwick on anniversary of young girl’s death

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Grieving: Gonzalez’s parents, Juan Gonzalez and Reyna Candia, mourned their daughter.
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Legacy burns: Mourners lit candles in honor of the youngster, whose first name means “light.”
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Gone too soon: A banner bearing an image of Gonzalez hung outside the laundromat.
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Community support: Around 30 people attended the vigil, which kicked off a year of such rememberances for each month that passes since the youngster’s death.

A group of mourners gathered on Tuesday to sing hymns and say prayers on the Bushwick pavement where a hit-and-run driver fatally ran over a 4-year-old girl one month prior, kicking off a year of such vigils to mark each month that passes since young Luz Gonzalez’s tragic death.

The remembrances are part of a Catholic tradition practiced by members of the Mexican community Gonzalez’s family comes from, according to the girl’s godmother.

“They do it each month for a whole year. Traditionally, they have to do a mass,” said Fabiola Mendieta.

On June 24, motorist Jeanette Maria backed out of what the city has since deemed an illegal parking lot outside Clean City Laundry Center laundromat at the corner of Wyckoff Avenue and Hart Street, turned, and drove into Gonzalez and her mother Reyna Candia, killing the girl and injuring Candia as she bent down to tie the youngster’s shoe.

Cops stopped Maria about a block away from the deadly collision as she fled the scene, but they let her go, leading some demonstrators who marched on the 83rd Precinct’s station house this month to question its officers about rumors that the driver is related to one of New York’s Finest — claims the local cops said were irrelevant to their investigation of the incident at the time.

Police barricades blocked off the entirety of the illicit parking lot on the night of the vigil, at which some of the roughly 30 grievers also placed flowers and candles in honor of Gonzalez, whose first name means “light.”

Weeks ago, Candia and the girl’s father chose not attend the burial of their daughter — a United States citizen by birth — in their native Mexico, because the immigrants, who are working to receive green cards, feared they would be barred from reentering the country, Mendieta said.

And law-enforcement officials have shared few updates with the family since Maria killed their daughter, the godmother said, while the driver still walks free — even after Borough President Adams, a former cop, demanded she be held accountable for fleeing the scene at a separate vigil days after the incident.

But the investigation is still ongoing, according to a rep for the district attorney’s office.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Posted 12:00 am, July 26, 2018
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