‘I still can’t believe she’s not here’: Family, friends in shock over death of 8-year-old Queens girl and woman mowed down by Range Rover

Nicholas Williams, Wes Parnell and Thomas Tracy, New York Daily News

An 8-year-old girl mowed down in Queens was happily shopping for her brother’s Halloween birthday when an out-of-control Range Rover jumped the curb and took her life, her devastated family said Saturday.

Little Jashanty Cole was one of two victims killed in the Friday collision in Jamaica, the other a 65-year-old woman who friends said was enjoying an evening walk.

Jashanty had just stepped out of a Jimmy Jazz store around 5:30 p.m. when the SUV veered onto the sidewalk and crashed into the third grader — right in front of the child’s horrified guardian.

“I still can’t believe she’s not here,” Phylecia Harris said, fighting back tears as she clutched a photo of Jashanty in her hands. “I can’t believe she’s dead ... 8 years old.”

Harris, 71, said she heard the SUV coming, but didn’t realize it was heading towards her family down Jamaica Ave. near E. 164th St.

“I just heard something coming but I didn’t hear it coming this way," Harris said. "Then I saw it coming but by that time, it was already too late.”

Harris, Jashanty and the girl’s three older siblings were all knocked to the ground, as the SUV kept going and rammed into Yuniang Cong further down the street.

As she scrambled to get up, Harris saw the sidewalk coated with Jashanty’s blood. “The only thing I was worried about in that moment was Shanty,” she said.

Both the little girl and Cong, who was dragged by the SUV, were rushed to Jamaica Hospital but they couldn’t be saved.

The two victims brought together by a tragic fate lived only four miles from each other, police said.

“I’m in disbelief,” said David Muscat, Cong’s super at her Henley Road home. “When the cops came they had me help identify her and I just couldn’t believe it."

“I saw her leaving yesterday and said, ‘It’s cold today where are you going?’ She said, ‘It’s okay I have my jacket,’” Muscat, 31, recalled. “I’d see her all over Queens in her jacket, going for a walk, going shopping, going to the park. Always alone and always happy.”

The family, instead of celebrating the brother’s 17th birthday, were huddled together in grief in their Jamaica home.

“She meant a lot to me,” Harris said. "She loved to draw. She was a good artist ... a very good artist and designer.”

Yuniang Cong, who also went by April, was also an artist who enjoyed sketching outdoor scenes across New York City and China, her son said.

“She loved calligraphy, watercolor and charcoal sketches,” said her son Winter Guerra, an MIT robotics researcher. “Some of her best watercolor works are of the Coney Island Amusement Park and the Lotus Pond in the (New York) Botanical Garden."

The 47-year-old woman driving the Range Rover remained at the scene. No charges have been filed.

Witnesses said she appeared to be rushing to beat a traffic light when she veered onto the sidewalk.

“(Cong) had her back to the car. She didn’t know anything was coming,” witness William Baker, 59, said Friday. “I’m a grown man. I was in the military. It was horrific. I’ve never seen nothing like that in my life.”

Investigators believe the woman was trying to hit the brakes but slammed on the gas instead. Detectives were still investigating the crash Saturday.

Cong often traveled to Hong Kong for months at a time, but was grounded by the pandemic, her building super said.

“With everything going on she couldn’t travel and I really got to spend time with her over the past year,” Muscat said. “If she needed anything fixed it was always, ‘No rush David, whenever you get time.’”

“Every Christmas she would get me something, a little tip wrapped in the red Chinese envelopes,” he said.

No one in Harris' family knew the woman, but were just as stunned by her death.

“What can you say about that?” Harris asked. “A life was just taken away in a second, a little baby at that and a woman.”


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