Zachary Ranftle, 12, fatally struck walking to school in Valley Stream
A seventh-grader at Valley Stream Memorial Junior High School was struck and killed by an SUV while walking to school Thursday morning.
Police say the driver, 29-year-old Austin Soldano, was making a right turn at the intersection of Merrick Road and South Franklin Avenue when the incident occurred. According to investigators, it is possible that Zachary Ranftle, 12, was standing in between two telephone poles just before stepping off the curb and the driver never saw him.
According to police, Soldano already had a suspended driver's license after being charged with DWI back in August. In addition, police say Soldano pleaded guilty to another DWI charge back in 2010 and also had other previous charges for reckless driving and resisting arrest.
Soldano is now being charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle.
The school superintendent released a statement saying, "The school has enacted its crisis plan and grief counselors will be made available to students and staff as long as needed. We extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the student."