Brooklyn Bar Mitzvah Boy Samuel Cohen-Eckstein Killed in Tragic Accident

Crushed by Van as He Chased Soccer Ball Near Prospect Park


By Maya Shwayder

Published October 10, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Multi Page

A 12-year-old Brooklyn boy was struck by a van and killed on Tuesday evening while chasing a soccer ball outside his home near Prospect Park, police said.

Popular eighth-grader Samuel Cohen-Ecktein, 12, was crushed when he ran into Prospect Park West Tuesday night.

Cohen-Eckstein was hit by an oncoming 2006 white Chevrolet van, and was crushed by its back tires, the Daily News reported. He sustained severe trauma to the torso and was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at Methodist Hospital.

The driver was questioned by police, but was not arrested. His name has not been released. A source told the Daily News the driver did not break any traffic laws. The NYPD said the investigation was ongoing.

A police spokesman told the Forward that Cohen-Eckstein was chasing a ball when he was killed. Lisa B. Segal, a cantor at Kolot Chayeinu synagogue, disputed that account, claiming that he carefully crossed the road after stopping to look for oncoming traffic.

“Sammy” Cohen-Eckstein was due to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah on November 16 at the Kolot Chayeinu congregation in Park Slope, a progressive synagogue, with a party to follow that evening in Williamsburg.

Gary Eckstein and Amy Cohen, parents of Sammy, had spoken in the past at community board meetings and to reporters about traffic safety laws and the need for better bike lanes.

At the leafy intersection where Eckstein-Cohen was hit, a small memorial cropped up overnight, attached to the two police barriers at the entrance to the park at Prospect Park West and Third street. The family’s apartment building stands just opposite the entrance.

Anita Culp, a Park Slope resident who bikes to work on Prospect Park West every day, stopped on her way to work to take in the few hand-made signs, signed by Eckstein-Cohen’s friends and classmates, and bouquets.

Culp said she saw the aftermath of the accident on Tuesday. “I was riding up and saw him lying in the street,” Culp told the Forward. “There were a few people standing around helping him and stopping traffic.”

Two of Eckstein-Cohen’s classmates from MS 51, Flora Lennihan, 12, and Alison Collard de Beaufort, 13, stood for a while at Eckstein-Cohen’s memorial. Collard de Beaufort was especially emotional, saying today at school was “terrible,” for the students and the teachers.

“The teachers were uncomfortable,” said Lennihan. “They hadn’t had a student pass away before, and they seemed uncomfortable so they didn’t know how to react or help students. “Luckily we have no tests tomorrow,” she added.

Collard de Beaufort said she heard about the accident on the news on Tuesday night, but didn’t know who had been hit. Lennihan said she didn’t know anything until she got to school on Wednesday morning and “saw everyone was crying,” and heard from her friends. Lennihan said the school administration had to close down the girl’s bathroom because too many people were writing messages to Eckstein-Cohen on the walls.

Both girls said Eckstein-Cohen was in their science and math classes, that he was good at school, liked soccer and being with his friends, and played trumpet in a jazz band. “He was very kind,” said Collard de Beaufort. “He never picked on anyone.”

City Councillors Brad Lander and Steve Levin both issued statements expressing their condolences. Levin said in an email to Streetsblog that, “this is a terrible tragedy and my thoughts and prayers go out to the boy’s family.”

Lander tweeted:


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.