May 30, 2007 —A 4-year-old was killed Wednesday night when two Allentown police cars crashed.
The police cruisers were racing to an emergency call when they collided at North 7th and Chew streets, then one of them went up onto the street corner. Daviay Lagrand and his mother's boyfriend were struck. Crystal Lagrand managed to get her other two children out of the way.
The 4-year-old was killed, and the man who tried to save him was left with a shattered bone in one of his legs.
City officials said the two police officers, one of them a rookie, were responding to a call of someone waving a gun near Grand Hotel on 10th Street. A suspect was later arrested in connection with that incident.
The officers involved in the crash received minor injuries and were placed on paid administrative leave Thursday.
Meanwhile, balloons, candles, notes and teddy bears marked the spot of the tragedy, and the memorial was growing by the hour.
The devastated mother reacted publicly to her son's death.
Asked what she would remember most about him, Lagrand answered, "My son's last breath. And how the police kept walking over the top of my son when I'm screaming on top of my lungs, 'Get my son! Get my son!"
"First you heard the sirens, then you heard the tires screech, then you heard the bang," said Desirea Spearman, who said she witnessed the crash. "The little boy was laying there, severed in half."
"The cops did not slow down like they're supposed to slow down," said another witness.
Rev. David Jones, Daviay's great uncle, said, "He was a typical 4-year-old. Crystal had the typical hopes and aspirations that all of us have for our kids -- that they'll have a life, they?ll have a family one day and they'll have a future one day. Now, all that's gone."
During a press conference Thursday, "We're accepting responsibility," said Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski
City officials won't go into details about the crash, but have called in state police crash experts to conduct an outside investigation.
"We can't even begin to express our condolences and apologies for this tragic accident. We want to help in any way that we possibly can," Pawlowski said.
Neighbors are upset, NBC 10's Justin Pizzi reported.
"That could have happened to anybody's child, anybody's child," one woman shouted.
Last night, some neighbors threw bottles and rocks at police. But the 4-year-old's family was calling for peace.
"This could be a bridge-building opportunity in the community," Jones said.
But before that, a time to remember a little life lost in what was, by all accounts, an awful incident.
"That little boy lost his life for no reason at all. That little boy would have been 5 next month. He won't even see 5," said Spearman.
State police said they will have no comment about exactly what happened when the two cars crashed until the investigation is done. They were urging witnesses to contact them at the Bethlehem headquarters at 610-861-2026.
The mayor said he was working with the city's clergy to try to put together an event for Sunday to bring about some peace, help everyone realize that no one wanted anyone to get hurt in the end, Pizzi reported.