A 3-year-old girl has died after what neighbors are calling an "explosion" yesterday evening. Shortly after 9pm last night emergency crews were called to the scene of a burning car on Baisley Blvd. near 154th St. in Springfield Gardens in Queens. When they arrived they found a male victim, who suffered severe burns, outside of the vehicle and a young girl still inside the burning vehicle.
Witnesses to the ordeal told New York Daily News they heard the explosion and what they described as a burning man.
“I heard a boom, like something explode. When I came out, I saw smoke,” said Lisa Silvera, 50, a witness.
“The whole car was engulfed in flames. The fire burst out,” said another witness, Clifton Mohammad.
A woman said she saw a man on fire running from the scene. “I mean, this guy was fully engulfed in flames,” said the neighbor, who declined to give her name.Someone told the man to head for the pond in adjacent Baisley Pond Park, Silvera said.
“She told him to run, run to the water,” she said.
Because of poor weather, police could not get a helicopter to help them search the darkened scene, officials said.
So cops searched the park on foot, with flashlights. They soon pulled the girl’s burned father from the pond, said sources.
“I saw when they brought him out. He was on a stretcher, he was burned,” said Silvera. "He looked white, so burned, with a mask over his face.”
Police said the girl’s father — identified by sources as a 39-year-old Valley Stream, L.I. resident — was detained as a person of interest. He was taken to Jamaica Hospital to be treated for burns, and was reported in critical but stable condition early Monday.
The man and the girl’s mother have a limited history of domestic violence, and do not live together, said law enforcement sources. They were arguing over the custody of the girl, said the sources.
The little girl, identified as Zoey Pereira, was also taken to the same hospital, unresponsive, but was unable to be revived.
All of this might seem accidental however, there are reports that there were gas canisters inside the car, in the back seat, and that the back doors were chained shut. Other motorists reported that the father had been driving erratically before the car burst into flames.
Whatever the truth is, we hope that this child's family finds peace and justice.