Funeral held for girl killed on Upper West Side

June 9, 2013 7:51:52 PM PDT
Funeral services were held for the little girl who was struck and killed by a car on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Services for 4-year-old Ariel Russo were held Sunday evening at the Leo F. Kearns funeral home in Queens.

A candlelight vigil for Russo was held Saturday evening.

Through song and prayer, mourners remembered a little girl with a big heart. Her life was extinguished, but her spirit lives on.

Balloons carrying pictures of Russo soared towards the heavens, but on the ground, residents still struggle with the violent reality.

"I'm a mom, grandmother, and great-grandmother, and pushing those strollers when I go across the street, it's just so scary now," said family friend Ruth Mackins.

Russo and her grandmother were hit by a car that was fleeing from police Tuesday morning.

Police say an unlicensed 17-year-old driver, Franklin Reyes, struck the girl and her grandmother at 97th Street and Amsterdam Avenue while fleeing police.

Russo was pronounced dead at the scene. Her grandmother was taken to the hospital in critical condition with leg and back injuries, but was later upgraded to stable.

The teen has been arrested on charges of vehicular manslaughter and is being held without bail.

The head of the union that represents EMS workers is calling for an independent investigation into charges by the fire department that the 911 call was overlooked for nearly four minutes due to a shift change.

New York City Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano says human error is behind a delay getting an ambulance to the scene of the accident..

Cassano said Friday that a dispatcher received the emergency call after Tuesday's crash on the Upper West Side, but it took four minutes before someone spotted the call.

From then, it took four more minutes for an ambulance to reach the scene.

Cassano says glitches in the city's new 911 system were not to blame for the delay, but he added it's not clear whether a faster response would have helped Ariel Russo.