ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Albuquerque Police Department reports that they’ve located the off-road vehicle involved in the fatal crash that killed a seven-year-old on Sunday night but authorities are still looking for the driver.
The community is remembering Pronoy Bhattacharya. “Very inquisitive, creative, an exceptionally gifted child,” said Tina Patel, director of the Montessori One Academy. She knew Bhattacharya when he was a student there before moving to Georgia O’Keeffe Elementary last fall.
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“Strong in math, empathetic, and just ready with a smile all the time. Every time you saw him there was a smile on his face,” said Patel.
APD has been searching since Sunday night for the driver of an off-road vehicle that hit Pronoy and his father as they crossed Central Ave. at Tingley Dr. after attending the River of Lights. The driver didn’t stop.
APD states that officers followed up on dozens of tips from the community and located the vehicle on Monday on 65th Street and Avalon. “It was outside in the front yard with a couple of officers and it was wrapped in like Saran Wrap, that’s what it looked like,” one neighbor said.
Police in a now-deleted tweet said the off-road vehicle they tracked to the neighborhood has been “modified to look different from the images shown on the news but that they found evidence at the home that they connected to the vehicle.”
A viewer took a video of a home on 65th Street on Monday night when APD was at the scene. Neighbors say officers spent Wednesday afternoon keeping an eye on the home and Monday night conducted a search and ultimately took away the vehicle that had obvious damage to it. Authorities have collected the vehicle as evidence from the property.
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On Wednesday, neighbors say they have seen a man and his teenage or young adult son at the house and they’ve seen the young man riding an off-road vehicle around the neighborhood.
“I’m very angry with this loss. It did not need to happen and we’ve lost a brilliant, beautiful boy who would have grown up to be a very successful contributing member of our community,” said Patel.
There is a growing memorial at the site of the crash with people leaving flowers, stuffed animals, and candles. KRQE News 13 was there on Tuesday where several people stopped to pay their respects.
“I’m sorry that this happened. It’s sad because you can take so many precautions and inaction or inadequacy of paying attention and it doesn’t just affect you but affects others. People who didn’t even know this existed and they’re the victims of carelessness,” said bike rider Jared O’Shaughnessy.
Homeowners in the Huning Castle Neighborhood near the ABQ BioPark say they’ve been dealing with speeding cars and racing on Central for too long and say Pronoy’s death was the final straw. They say nearly seven days a week, they hear cars racing down Central. This week, resident Kirsten Lee wrote a letter to the mayor and city officials asking to crack down on racing and for the problem to be taken seriously.
“Whatever we’re doing it’s not working. It’s not working; two years since I wrote my first letter and, unfortunately, now we’re in the situation where there’s a fatality and it’s a child and it’s completely avoidable,” said Lee. Lee said she hasn’t heard back from city leaders yet.
Albuquerque Metro Crime Stoppers is now offering a $3,500 reward for information that leads to an arrest. People can call 505-843-7867 to report tips which can also be made anonymously.
Bhattacharya was a second-grader at Georgia O’Keeffe Elementary. On Tuesday, Superintendent Scott Elder sent a letter to the Albuquerque Public Schools community:
Our hearts are broken knowing Pronoy Bhattacharya has left our world. While all of us at APS, especially Pronoy’s teachers, staff, and friends at Georgia O’Keefe, will miss him dearly, no one is in more pain today than Pronoy’s parents and family. We cannot possibly know what this loss feels like to the Bhattacharya family, but we want them to know they are not alone and we will be here to provide whatever support is needed.
We are praying for Pronoy’s father, who remains hospitalized, recovering from injuries suffered in the crash that took his young son’s life.
APS has made counselors available to staff, students, and families at Georgia O’Keefe Elementary School, where Pronoy was a second- grader. Everyone who knew Pronoy describes him as a bright, warm, energetic, and fun boy. This is an incredibly difficult time, and I encourage everyone to spend time with loved ones, ask for help coping if needed, and in honor of Pronoy to be kind to one another now and always.
Respectfully,Scott Elder, Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent