DRIVER TALKING ON CELL AS HE RUNS DOWN KID
A distracted cabby talking on his cellphone while speeding yesterday struck and killed an 8-year-old boy in Harlem — and then continued to yak away, oblivious to the carnage until a witness stopped him, cops and witnesses said.
Axel Pablo was hit by a yellow cab as he crossed Lexington Avenue at 112th Street with his mom and little sister at 1:55 p.m. Witnesses said the family had the light.
The cabby, Akim Saiful Alam, 44, first tried to flee the scene, witnesses said, and was later seen pacing around the carnage with his cellphone earpiece still dangling from his head. Police took Alam away in handcuffs, but he was released without charges last night.
Such accidents have become a familiar sight in the city, as authorities figure out a better way to enforce the total ban on cabby cellphone use, even with a hands-free device.
Mayor Bloomberg said today, “I don’t know whether he was talking and I don’t know whether it would have prevented the accident. “What is true is a young kid is dead. It’s very tragic.”
The latest victim was in the middle of the intersection picking up his mother’s dropped phone when he was slammed by Alam’s cab, witnesses said.
The doomed boy was struck so violently that paramedics had to peel his jeans off the pavement to place him in an ambulance.
Axel, who lived five blocks away on Madison Avenue, died at Metropolitan Hospital.
A pool of blood marked the spot where he was hit.
“The cabby struck him hard,” said Salha Nagi, 27, who saw the boy bleeding on the ground and managed to stop Alam from getting away.
Nagi, who works in his cousin’s deli on the corner, said the cabby was still talking on his phone — unaware of the tragedy he had just caused — when Nagi rushed up, banged on his window and told him there had been an accident.
Nagi said Alam switched into reverse and tried to drive away while Nagi reached in to grab the cabby’s keys.
They struggled and, at that point, cops arrived, Nagi said.
Alam, who has several traffic violations on his driving record, was taken to the 23rd Precinct station house for questioning.
Nagi said the boy and his mother had the light.
“The cabby hit him like he didn’t see him. He was on the cellphone,” he said. “He tried to escape, so I grabbed his hand and tried to take the key.”
Anick Alhassan, 62, who lives in France and was visiting her daughter in New York, said, “I saw the devastated mother.
TALKING ON CELL AS HE RUNS DOWN KID
“I saw someone trying to revive him. I’m still shaking — a little boy.
“I’m mad that taxi drivers are always on the cellphones,” she added. “Everybody applauded when the driver was taken away in handcuffs.”
Alam is an immigrant from Bangladesh, where his wife and children are vacationing.
“He’s a nice person. He never drinks or anything else. As a person he’s a very good guy. Nobody complains about him,” said Chutti Miah, 47, a fellow taxi driver.
Additional reporting by Tom Namako and Liz Sadler