Family friend honors Pronoy Bhattacharya 1 year after death

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ALBUQUERQUE. N.M. – Today, Dec. 12, marks one year since the tragic hit-and-run crash outside River of Lights. 7-year-old Pronoy Bhattacharya died after getting hit by an ATV, while his family was leaving the event.

Pronoy’s mother told Rebecca Struve, a close family friend, her little boy wanted an extra cup of hot cocoa at the end of the night. Struve said her friend wonders how everything would have played out if she had said ‘yes.’

“The Bhattacharyas moved in two doors down from us about the same time we moved into this neighborhood, and we were excited to see a little boy about the same age,” Struve said, reminiscing on how the two families met years ago. 

Pronoy and Struve’s Levi were instant friends.

“Playing out in the neighborhood with their push bikes and chalk and trucks, and whatever else,” she added.

The boys grew up together, influencing their families to form a friendship as well.

On the night of Dec. 12, 2021, Struve told KOB 4 she ignored what she thought was a routine call from Pronoy’s mother.

“My phone rang on my watch, and I saw that it was Deepshikha, and I just ignored her call thinking it was my turn to take the boys to school the next week,” she said.

Then, her husband’s phone rang.

“I turned, and I said ‘is that D?’ and he said ‘yeah’ and he picked up the phone, and she was hysterical and just screaming, ‘my son is dead, Pronoy is dead,’” Struve said. “That’s how we all found out.”

The family friends did not hesitate when asked to drive to the scene at Tingley and Central, pick up the Bhattacharya’s four-year-old son and their car.

“It was a very shocking and surreal situation for us to be in,” Struve said. 

She said, this past year, she has watched Pronoy’s mother continue to struggle with the ‘What if’s’ of that night.

“Like what if we didn’t choose that ticket time? What if I would’ve have planned a little better so we could be there on time, and not feel like we had to park at Tingley Beach?”

Or what if they had stayed for one more cup of hot cocoa when Pronoy asked.

“That’s one of her regrets,” Struve said. “If he’d had a cup of cocoa, perhaps they would have missed the timing of the accident. I thought about how I wanted to remember this boy on this important day for their family, I just thought, I want people to celebrate Pronoy with a cup of cocoa at River of Lights, and so that’s kind of how the idea was hatched.”

Tonight, on the anniversary of Pronoy’s passing, Struve teamed up with event organizers and the City of Albuquerque to hand out free hot cocoa vouchers to River of Lights visitors.

“We just want them to enjoy being at River of Lights and to enjoy that time with their family and their friends, and to slow down,” she said. “It’s going to be okay if it’s a school night, we get in bed a little late tonight, and to just really appreciate the surroundings and that time to be with your loved ones, because we really never know when they’re going to be gone.”