Community pays tribute to boy killed in hit-and-run

[anvplayer video=”5077572″ station=”998127″]

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – New Mexicans are searching for who killed 7-year-old Pronoy Bhattacharya Sunday night in a deadly hit-and-run.

Bhattacharya was a second-grader at Georgia O’Keeffe Elementary School – before he was tragically killed at an intersection while leaving the River of Lights with his family.

Many people wanted to share stories of Bhattacharya and pay tribute to him, and they built a memorial with flowers, balloons and candles Monday evening.

Tina Patel knew him well and is the founder and director at Montessori ONE Academy, which he attended until last year.

"Always a smile. Extremely loving, brilliant. He was so smart, and we’ve lost a really, really good person today – for no reason. Very creative, curious. You wanted to be around him. Always ready with a smile and a hug,” said Patel. "A beautiful, brilliant boy who had so much to offer to our society."

People who knew him gathered near the intersection – hugging, crying, and creating a memorial for him.

"You know, here we were trying to keep children safe from COVID. Never would have thought we’d have to keep them safe from this."

Patel said she hopes authorities will find the suspected driver.

"I hope he rots in jail because he deserves to," she said.

Patel said Bhattacharya’s mother told her – she was walking just in front of him, and rushed over when she realized what happened. When she got to him, she couldn’t find his pulse.

A larger security presence was at the crosswalk Monday night at Central and Tingley.

Two security staff members were making sure both drivers and families walking are staying safe. A city spokesperson said the area didn’t have that Sunday night.

The New Mexico BioPark Society provided this statement to KOB 4:

"We are heartbroken over last night’s tragic incident, and our thoughts are with the child’s family. River of Lights is a community event and family tradition, and we mourn together with those directly impacted by this senseless act. The New Mexico BioPark Society works closely with multiple City of Albuquerque departments, including Albuquerque Police Department and Albuquerque Fire Rescue, on traffic and safety plans for River of Lights at the ABQ BioPark Botanic Garden.”

Albuquerque Public Schools issued this statement from Superintendent Scott Elder:

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.