For two families in Philadelphia’s Feltonville neighborhood, the grief is unbearable.
Between them, the families lost three young children, including a toddler just shy of her first birthday, and her 22-year-old mother.
Hundreds of neighbors gathered for a vigil Thursday evening to comfort one another and remember the victims.
The four victims were together on the sidewalk Wednesday evening – the three children playing – when they were run over by a car that careened off North 3rd Street. The driver of the car was speeding from the scene of a motorcycle robbery just a few blocks away. Funerals for the four people killed by a runaway driver in Feltonville on Wednesday night will be held this week, with the first scheduled for tomorrow for 6-year-old Aaliyah Griffin. Aaliyah died when a car plowed into her and three others on the sidewalk on North Third Street. Also killed were Gina Marie Rosario, 7; Latoya Smith, 22; and Smith’s 11-month-old daughter, Remedy.
Donta Craddock, 18, the driver of the car, remained hospitalized yesterday and had not been arraigned. His stepbrother, Ivan Rodriguez, 20, has been charged with murder and other crimes in the case. A viewing for Gina Rosario will be 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Compagnola Funeral Home.
Why should anyone care about this? This was an avoidable and tragic event that occurred not to long ago in Philadelphia. With an investigation done by CBS 3 correspondent Walt Hunter new facts about the suspect have come to light. Here are some facts from the report done by Mr. Hunter. Records show police and family court officials knew all too well 18-year-old Donta Cradock was dangerous. So dangerous, he was #1 on a list of top 25 most wanted juvenile escapees.
But when a special team, formed to track down fugitives, raided Cradock’s home on May 30, he slipped away.
They are called “JETS” — Juvenile Enforcement Teams — and their mission in Operation Pressure Point is to track down more than 300 juvenile fugitives who have slipped out of detention and are on the run.
Beginning in April, working with family court officials, they made a list of their top 25 most wanted and the man at the top of the list was Donta Cradock.
Judge Kevin Dougherty, who heads family court, said in an exclusive interview that Cradock, with eight prior arrests, was the top target of the teams after he failed to return from an Easter pass to a disciplinary school outside Pittsburgh.
Records show JET teams raided Cradock’s house on May 30; 11 days before he allegedly roared through the intersection of 3rd and Annsbury Streets last Wednesday night killing three children, along with the mother of the youngest.
I recently had a chance to be a caller on the show hosted by Walt Hunter and George Anastasia of the Philadelphia Inquirer. I mentioned that the blame for this tragic event is multifaceted. One of the biggest pieces of this puzzle needs to be the judicial system and the men enforcing it.
If the judges that sit on the bench are not issuing a “Slap on the Wrist” to some or if we didn’t have prison over crowding this and other things of this nature would not occur.
Think about the events that have unfolded in recent months. Four Philadelphia police officers were killed in the line of duty in 2008. In May, 39-year-old Stephen Liczbinski was fatally shot responding to a bank robbery. In September, 40-year-old Isabel Nazario was killed during a vehicle pursuit when the patrol car she was riding in got broadsided by a teenager driving a stolen SUV. Also in September, 30-year-old Patrick McDonald was fatally shot by a fugitive he had chased down after a traffic stop. And in November, Tim Simpson died in the line of duty.
In October 2007, 54-year-old Officer Chuck Cassidy was fatally shot when he interrupted a robbery at a Dunkin’ Donuts.
In 2006, Officer Gary Skerski became the first officer killed in the line of duty in Philadelphia in a decade.
All of these acts were committed by career criminals with rap sheets longer than my arm. So judges are lawyers who decided to run for an elected office. Change is what moved America to vote a new president into office. It’s time the people of Philadelphia and all communities to look into the system that is judging them. If they can not enforce what is the law than look into a new system and its enforcers.
If the prisons are over crowed than take a look into why this is. People on death row need to be executed. Certain lesser offenses need to be given a second look and have the proper punishment administered. Even if half way houses are to be used for those certain offenses of the law and finally new prisons need to be built!
Yes I said new prisons! Why? No criminals on the street to do what was mentioned above, jobs are created, and tax breaks are given to the counties where they are built.
Do more children and officers and mothers have to die for us to want a different society? It’s your future and it should be a safer one!
Please keep in mind what you have just read is one man’s opinion. I hope others have an opinion and want to help build a better society and neighborhood for our children too!
– Kevin R. Consolo