8-month-old boy in stroller fatally struck by van in Queens, arrest made

EAST ELMHURST, Queens (WABC) -- A young boy being pushed in a stroller was fatally struck by a van in Queens Friday morning, and now the driver is under arrest.

The incident happened on Astoria Boulevard in East Elmhurst around 10:15 a.m.

The victim, 8-month-old Navraj Raju, was rushed to Elmhurst Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

"It's too much," the baby's aunt, Rani Bedi, said tearfully. "He's crying, the father. He told me, 'I don't know what happened. I am working. The baby die."

Authorities say the driver, 44-year-old Armando Morales-Rodriguez, was backing out of a driveway when the boy and his 35-year-old mother were passing on the sidewalk.

He taken into custody at the scene, and later charged with being an unlicensed operator.

There is surveillance video of the incident that authorities are looking at as part of the investigation, which reportedly shows the mom bent over, either checking the stroller in the wind or checking something on the ground, in the moments before the van backed up.

A friend of the driver came to his defense, saying no one was more sorry than him.

"You know, he's jumping, he care about the baby only," Pedro Bourdier said. "He don't care about nothing, (but) the baby."

Witnesses say Morales-Rodriguez then seemed to panic and somehow ran over the baby again.

"Mother is crying, 'Stop the van! Stop the van!'" witness Ahmed Ali said. "So everybody's coming, baby is behind his car."

The investigation is ongoing.
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