The Boro Park community was plunged into great sadness and mourning over the petirah of Blima Friedman, a”h, age 10, who passed away tragically after being hit by a car Tuesday night on 18th Avenue. Her mother, Chaya Sara Friedman, 33, was also struck. Her condition is stable but critical; she gave birth to a healthy daughter soon after her admission to the hospital.
Friends, family, and acquaintances were distraught, and as news spread, the entire community was deeply shaken.
“It’s totally devastating,” said a relative of the family, who groped for words to express her grief. “I can’t fathom such a terrible thing happening.”
At Bnos Yaakov of Pupa, where Blimi, as she was known, was in the 5th grade, staff and students alike did their best to deal with the painful news.
“She was such a sincere, pure and pleasant girl,” said a faculty member from Bnos Yaakov, who asked not to be identified. “She was the kind of girl that everybody got along with, a real gitskeit.”
Rabbi Yanky Mayer of Misaskim told Hamodia that Mrs. Friedman and her daughter had gone shopping and were crossing 18th Avenue, at the corner of 60th Street, when the accident occurred.
“Hatzolah were the first responders,” said Rabbi Mayer. “Hatzolahworked very hard to try to get a pulse for the girl, but weren’t able to. The mother was trapped under the car; the fire department lifted it to get her out.”
The driver, Bilal Ghumman, 22, who works as a valet parker for a local catering hall, was operating the automobile of a client, but took the minivan to a store to run a personal errand, according to police. He remained at the scene and was taken into custody for unauthorized use of a vehicle as well as for a prior warrant for possession of illegal substances.
In light of the circumstances of the horrific event, state senators Simcha Felder and Martin Golden issued a joint press release pledging to work on legislation that will “stiffen the penalties on individuals charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle resulting in a person’s death.”
Under the present code, such crimes are punishable by a maximum of a year in prison. Their proposal is to raise the penalty to four years.
“It was a horrible feeling last night,” said Rabbi Mayer, who, together with his team, were on site in Maimonides Hospital where the girl was brought, with Reb Yaakov Mordechai Friedman, the father. “We were the ones that told him that his daughter was no longer alive, and simultaneously we told him mazal tov that he had a baby girl.”
Rabbi Yaakov Klar, associate director of Crisis Intervention for Chai Lifeline, spoke to parents, teachers and classmates in Bnos Yaakov to counsel them on dealing with the tragedy. Chai Lifeline also had a social worker on site to talk to girls individually and will be offering assistance over the coming weeks.
“We let parents and teachers know what to expect, what’s normal and what’s not,” said Rabbi Klar. “We tried to help the girls deal with their feelings. The girls are going to write down their memories and make a book out of it. They all said that she had a lot of pens and pencils that she was always lending out; they decided to make a gemach in her memory.”
A faculty member described the mood of the school as one of complete shock, but added that parents were especially grateful for the professional guidance that the school was able to provide with the help of Chai Lifeline.
“We followed their [Chai Lifeline’s] guidelines and now things are pretty much under control,” said the faculty member. “When Chai Lifeline came in to talk to the class, everybody started off sobbing, but principals observed that by the end of the day they were subdued, but calm.”
“It’s a very special and giving family,” said a friend. “They’ve been through so much already, it’s just so sad.”
Wednesday afternoon, a brokenhearted crowd packed Shomrei Hadas chapel to pay their last respects to Blimi.
Harav Shraga Hager, the Kossover Rebbe, spoke of the goodness of the Friedman family, saying the message of this tragedy is “for us and not for them.”
Reb Yaakov Mordechai Friedman spoke briefly and emotionally, saying that he and the family would do their best to accept the decree and that Blimi should be a melitzas yosher for all of them.
Readers are asked to daven for Mrs. Friedman — Chaya Sara bas Bracha.