This week, a young man’s life was needlessly destroyed. The 29-year-old man, a resident of Ozone Park, was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to three to ten years in prison.
The sentence was just and could have been (and should have been) much harsher. But nonetheless, his life has been destroyed by the decisions he made on July 25, 2019.
Even in the future, when he has finally finished his sentence, he will need to live with the memories and knowledge of how he took another human being’s life in a colossal act of stupidity.
He may have destroyed and thrown away his own life, but he is not the victim in this story. That tragic honor belongs to Sivananaintha Perumal, a resident of Woodhaven who was on his way to work at Dunkin’ Donuts in Howard Beach when his life was taken away.
Mr. Perumal was crossing Woodhaven Boulevard at 91st Avenue at 5 a.m. to wait for a bus when he was struck by a car that had been clocked traveling 92 miles per hour. The details of the collision are gruesome and heartbreaking.
The driver struck the man so hard — warning, it’s hard to read this — that he dismembered parts of his body. The front of his car was smashed.
Life is a series of choices. Sometimes we make bad choices and, hopefully, we do a course-correction and make a good choice to balance it out. But this young man made a bad choice followed up by another bad choice followed up by another.
He decided to speed on Woodhaven Boulevard. He struck a man and did not stop. And then he said nothing for two weeks until the police found and arrested him.
And just like that, this young man’s life was needlessly destroyed. I say needlessly because what was this young man trying to accomplish by speeding on Woodhaven Boulevard?
He took Sivananaintha Perumal’s life for nothing. And he will have many long nights behind bars to live with the memories of that night echoing in his head.
If you’re out really late or up very early, you’ll see a lot of speeding cars on Woodhaven Boulevard. Maybe not so many topping 90 miles per hour, but you’ll see more than a few cars cruising past the speed limit.
And for what? To beat the next light? To get where you’re going two minutes faster?
If you’re the kind of person who likes to speed, congratulations for reading this far. I know you think this would never happen to you, or you justify it by saying that you only do it when the road is empty.
Or you might convince yourself that you’re just too gifted a driver to ever let that happen.
The young man behind bars for killing Sivananaintha Perumal once thought the same thing.
Then he made a series of bad choices and his life is in ruins, his freedom gone. Don’t make the same mistake. Don’t throw your life away.
Shortly after Mr. Perumal was killed, close to two-dozen residents joined the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association holding homemade signs with simple messages laong Woodhaven Boulevard.
One asked drivers to slow down. Another reminded drivers that a man was killed at this spot by a car going 92 miles per hour. Some drivers acknowledged the message with a wave and a smile. Others, believe it or not, were not so friendly.
After reading the signs while sitting at a red light, some drivers sped off at the first sign of green, exerting a little extra “oomph” on the gas pedal as they drove away.
Seriously, what kind of person sees a sign that a man was killed by a speeding car at that very spot, and then speeds off to make some sort of point?
When it was announced back in May that the speed limit on Woodhaven Boulevard was being reduced from 30 to 25 miles per hour, I read several complaints about this online.
Perhaps one of those speeding drivers or online complainers can explain their need to speed to the family of Sivananaintha Perumal.