In a heart-wrenching four-minute speech at a march Tuesday night, the parents of a little girl killed just one month ago pleaded with city drivers to exercise greater care.
Allison Liao, 3, was killed by an SUV while crossing the street with her grandmother in Jackson Heights, Queens.
At the Three Children Too Many march for traffic safety, her parents spoke of their loss and tried to appeal to drivers.
The driver who hit Allison was turning left through a crosswalk. Police gave him two tickets: one for failing to yield to a pedestrian, and another for failing to exercise due care.
The toddler, her weeping mother said, "paid the death penalty for crossing the street."
"It's unbelievable that the driver's penalty was two tickets," her mother cried. "Our daughter is gone."
Traffic safety advocates have complained that media reports suggested the little girl darted into traffic. But that was untrue: The 3-year-old was in the crosswalk, with a green light, "hand-in-hand with grandma."
"Allie was behaving exactly the way you would want your own 3-year-old to while crossing the street," her mother sobbed.
"This driver," she continued, "instead of yielding to a toddler and her grandma, made a conscious decision to muscle his way through the crosswalk."
"This action changed our lives," she said.
Allison's father made a desperate plea for drivers to realize their "enormous responsibility."
"Please, before you get behind the wheel, realize that the machine that you're about to operate can kill people," he urged.
He asked drivers to pay attention to the road, slow down and yield to pedestrians. He noted that New Yorkers are always rushing, always late.
"Is it worth it?" he asked, his voice breaking. "Is it worth running over a child because you're running late? Is it worth picking up the phone when it could mean that a family must pick out a grave for their child? Is it worth texting a friend when that message could force a father to text the date and time of their child's funeral? Is it worth looking at the phone when it causes a mother to look at the doctors in the ER trying to resuscitate her daughter?"
Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat