SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - The San Francisco medical examiner's office has identified a 7-year-old boy who died after he was pinned between a vehicle and a pole in the city's Bayview District last week as Assad Gibson.
the boy's grieving mother says she hopes her son's accidental death can help shine a light on the city's problem of abandoned cars.
Last Friday, seven-year-old Assad was killed after getting pinned between an abandoned minivan and a carport on Reule Court in the city's Bayview District.
Family members, friends, and neighbors says it's an issue that plagues lower-income neighborhoods, where abandoned or vandalized cars can frequently be found on dead-end blocks.
Assad had been playing inside the vehicle which was parked in the carport when police say the minivan's emergency brake failed, causing it to roll unexpectedly, trapping Assad between the minivan and the carport. Neighbors think Assad may have been trapped for an hour.
"People were yelling and they cryin' and just walking up to me saying, 'I'm sorry but he's gone,'" Suluki sobbed. "And I'm just like I wanna see my baby! And I went to the ambulance, tried to get into the car and they wouldn't let me in." Assad died later at the hospital.
Assad's mother, Jamellah Suluki was at work Friday, but she told KTVU that her boyfriend was at home on Cashmere Court watching her son. Suluki said Assad loved to play outdoors and had wandered down the street to explore that day. She said her son was easily influenced by the older kids in the neighborhood who she'd seen before playing in abandoned cars.
Suluki said she never thought of the inherent danger, because she, too, had grown up in the Jackie Garden Apartments and an accident like this had never happened before.
While the car Assad was playing in was parked on private property, many of the abandoned cars in the Bayview are on city streets.
"Definitely get [the abandoned cars] outta here!" she choked through tears. "My son was a perfect example, a seven year old boy... like, like he's old enough to open and close [doors]."
The manager for the Jackie Robinson Garden Apartments , which is on private property, declined to speak to KTVU but neighbors say several abandoned cars were towed away after Assad's accident.
But today the silver minivan, which proved to be a deathtrap for Assad, was dropped off by a tow company in the car owner's driveway. Because the vehicle had an malfunctioning emergency brake, the car rolled down the sloped driveway and came to rest in the street, blocking traffic and posing a danger to children.
"If it's in your neighborhood you recognize a car that's not supposed to be there let us know." said SFPD officer Carlos Manfredi. KTVU called SFPD and notified the apartment management office. A tow truck arrived within 20 minutes to tow the vehicle off once again. Typically SFPD says if neighbors report an abandoned vehicle officers will place a 72 hour hold on the vehicle.
"So we put a notification on there and if the owner doesn't move that vehicle then we'll tow the vehicle," explained Officer Manfredi. Police say abandoned cars can be dangerous because they can have mechanical problems, or be a haven for drug users, sexual activity and insects. Parents should warn kids to stay away.
"You just gotta talk to ‘em. I wish I could have did it but I talk to my daughter now you know?" said Suluki.
SFMTA says last year's numbers show that more than 23 thousand vehicles were towed, of those about two thousand were abandoned, stolen or had expired tags. Those statistics don't include cars that are never reported.
This afternoon, a group of friends, family and neighbors gathered in the carport where Assad was killed. A cluster of shiny helium balloons floated above a sizable collection of candles, cards, stuffed animals, flowers, notes, even a toy truck with a Snickers candy bar in it. Assad's favorite. They laughed about the seven year old's funny antics and sobbed for the little boy they would never see again.
"That's why there should be something for these kids to have and they don't have nothing," said neighbor, Cemetra Thomas. "So any curious adventurous kid is gonna be like, you know, they gonna see anything they think is cool to play with."
Youngblood-Coleman Park is a couple blocks away on Hudson Street but Thomas says it's too far a walk for kids to go alone. Furthermore, it had been shuttered for the past 20 years. A representative for the park dropped by while KTVU was interviewing neighbors and asked them if they knew that the park had just reopened this summer. They said they did not. Amonie Gibson, Assad's sister, tugged her mom's side, asking if they could go to the park right then.
When asked what Amonie would miss most about her brother, she replied, "That I don't get to play with him anymore."
We asked what Assad wanted to be when he grew up. "Actually he wanted to be a policeman," Suluki said wistfully, believe it or not, he did, that he did."
A gofundme has been set up to help with funeral costs.