‘Remembering Shree Panthee’ was written on photos of a 10-year-old boy, displayed inside the Coppola-Migliore Funeral Home in Queens on Saturday. The display included two red roses and two small wooden baskets filled with envelopes containing cards and letters written by the school friends of Srijal Panthi, who was killed by a Department of Sanitation truck in Queens last week in an event that shook the local Nepalese community, of which the victim was a member.
“He was a jolly kid. Vibrant is the right word,” said Iliadys Salcedo, 42, an administrator at the Forte Preparatory Academy, where Srijal was a fifth grader.
The school also held a brief memorial for Srijal — nicknamed Shree — on Friday.
“We also had given the kids flower seeds so whatever place is special to them in the community, they can plant the seeds,” Salcedo said, “and when the flowers bloom, they can remember Shree.”
The funeral home was packed, and many remained outside as the space could not accommodate the more than 250 attendees.
“The whole Nepalese community is in a deep shock,” said family friend Yadab Bastola. “This is why many came to show their condolences to the bereaved family.”
“I still can’t believe he is gone,” said Ram Hari Adhikari, president of the New York Chapter of the Non-Resident Nepali Association. “His father would always bring him in the community events. And he was really cheerful whenever he talked to us.”
Srijal’s father, Purushottam Panthi, who immigrated to the U.S. seven years ago, is well-known in the Nepalese community living in New York City. He is president of Queens Nepalese Lions Club, and initiated Nepalese language classes for kids in the Queens library this past summer. Both of his sons took the lessons.
“He was really friendly in class,” Aryan Shrestha, who gave Nepali lessons to kids in the library, said of Srijal. “I am totally in a shock to see him gone.”
Srijal’s mother, Mina Panthi, 40, was also injured in the crash, which took place at 57th Avenue near 97th Street as she walked her son to school. She remains at Elmhurst Hospital, where she is being treated for a leg injury.
“I feel really sad for the family, especially for the mother as she couldn’t be there with her family to bid her final goodbye to her son,” said family friend Sangita Uprety. “I can’t imagine the pain she might be going through.”
The Department of Sanitation suspended the driver behind the wheel of the truck that struck the mother and son, pending an investigation of the crash, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Twitter last week.
Srijal’s death is among more than two dozen pedestrian fatalities in the city in recent months, according to the advocacy groups Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets, which organized a protest march Saturday. The protestors, many of them parents pushing baby strollers, called for city lawmakers to vote on and pass the Reckless Driver Accountability Act, which would create tougher penalties for drivers who rack up certain number of moving violations.
Srijal was cremated with Hindu rituals at the Fresh Pond Cemetery in Middle Village.