Relatives, friends gather at funeral for teen killed in LI crash


| tcullen@queenscourier.com |

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence Cullen
THE COURIER/Photo by Terence Cullen

Those who knew Christopher Khan all seemed to say the same thing: he always had a smile on his face, no matter the day or the time.

Funeral services for Khan were held on Wednesday, October 10 in South Ozone Park.

Hundreds of relatives, friends and neighbors packed the funeral home to say goodbye to the young man, killed, along with four others in a tragic wreck on the Southern State Parkway.

“He wasn’t like my brother, he was my brother,” said Avinash Ramkumar, 17, as he fought off tears. Ramkumar, who knew Khan since their sophomore year of high school, said his friend had big dreams for himself and wanted others to succeed even more.

“He wanted to be successful…he wanted us to be happy,” Ramkumar said.

Reports say that the four Queens teenagers killed after the car they were riding in spun off the Southern State Parkway and split in two were not wearing seat belts at the time of the accident. The driver — the only one to survive — had been buckled up, according to reports.

Khan, 18, Neal Rajapa, 17, Darian Ramnarine, 18, and Peter Anthony, 18, were killed in the wreckage, but driver Joseph Beer, 17, was able to make it out of the early morning crash that happened on Monday, October 8.

The victims were mainly from South Ozone Park and Jamaica, according to state troopers.

Beer was taken to Winthrop-University Hospital in nearby Mineola, a hospital spokesperson confirmed. He was discharged the following day around 6 p.m., the spokesperson said. Beer was alleged in news reports to have been high on marijuana during the accident, but authorities could not confirm this at press time. The Winthrop spokesperson said the hospital cannot release the results of Beer’s blood tests.

The 2012 Subaru Impreza split in two, police said, with the contents of the car spilling along the side of the road. The car had been heading west on the Southern State near exit 17, at a notoriously dangerous curve, around 3:40 a.m. when it veered off the road.

Beer was driving with a learner’s permit, according to reports. Under state law, someone with just a permit can drive at certain hours with someone who is 21 or older and holds a valid license.

Services were held for Ramnarine on the evening of October 10 at the same funeral home. Virenda Ramkissoon, who said he was closest with Ramnarine, attended both funerals. He and Ramnarine had graduated together and had moved on to attend City Tech together, he said.

“I’m never going to get another hello from him,” he said. “It’s heart breaking to tell the college what happened to him.”

Ramkissoon said he was taking it upon himself to step in and be there for Ramnarine’s younger brother and sister — as he regarded Ramnarine as his own kin.

“They’re my responsibility basically now,” Ramkissoon said.

Most of the students graduated from Richmond Hill High School last year, and on the morning of Tuesday, October 9, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott visited the school to address students. A Department of Education spokesperson said grief counselors will be provided to students and staff in order to cope.

Zahid Hassan, a junior at Richmond Hill, said his brother had been with a few of the departed just a few days before.

“They were good kids,” Hassan, 16, said. “I didn’t see them do anything bad.”

Several students still at the high school said they knew Khan well, and all seemed to agree he was a good-spirited person.

“I just hope he’s in a better place,” said Jonathan Espinosa, who said he had a class with Khan last year.

Espinosa said his classmate had been a fun-loving student who was kind to others. It was shocking to hear that Khan had died, Espinosa said, as he is trying to deal with the tragedy.

“It’s hard, but it happens though,” he said. “But that shouldn’t have ever happened.”

Kayla Valentine, a basketball player at the school, said Khan would come in and help coaches during practices. Valentine said Khan was one of the students to graduate last year, but was not sure if he was going to college anywhere.

The 17-year-old senior added that Khan had been a smart student who was always willing and able to help her with school problems.

“He was really nice,” she said. “If I ever had a problem he would talk to me.”

Valentine said she lost a friend less than a year ago to an accident on the Southern State, near the same spot where Khan and his friends perished.

“It’s just weird to me how everything happens that way.”