Ormond boy hit by van, dies
By PATRICIO G. BALONA
Last update: 24 August 2003
ORMOND BEACH -- James Anderson cannot believe his 5-year-old stepson, Nicholas Riconosciuto, was struck by a van and killed in front of the family home Saturday morning.
The spunky 5-year-old, who always had a smile, will live in his memory as the stepson who willingly accepted him as a father, Anderson said.
"His mother and I got married two weeks ago. When I said 'I need my son right here with me, Nicholas raised his hand and said, I'm here,' " an emotional Anderson said Saturday night.
Nicholas was playing across the street from his Linda Avenue home with 10-year-old Ashleigh Howard at 9:50 a.m., said Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Raymond Steele. He ran after Ashleigh, attempting to cross Linda Avenue from east to west, when he was struck by a northbound van driven by Douglas Sonelan, 30, of Ormond Beach, Steele said.
"He was hit here," Ashleigh said Saturday night, pointing to an X inside a white circle on the pavement, "and he flew into air and fell there by the white arrow."
Nicholas was not breathing and did not have a heartbeat when county fire and EVAC paramedics arrived at the scene, said EVAC spokesman Mark O'Keefe. Paramedics worked to resuscitate the boy, but he was pronounced dead upon arrival at Halifax Medical Center, O'Keefe said.
Charges against Sonelan, if any, are pending an investigation and vehicle inspection.
Sonelan himself was seriously injured in an accident in West Volusia later Saturday, said FHP Trooper Kim Miller. Sonelan was riding in the back of a pickup on Lake Winona Road near State Road 40 when it ran into a mud puddle and flipped over, Miller said.
Three other passengers in the back were thrown clear, but Sonelan was pinned under the truck. The three friends lifted the truck off Sonelan, and he was transported by EVAC ambulance in serious condition to Halifax Medical Center, Miller said. The driver and a front seat passenger escaped injury. The other passengers were transported with minor injuries to Florida Hospital-DeLand, Miller said.
Nicholas' family is painfully coping with the loss, said his grandfather Al Van Pelt, as sympathizers streamed up the porch to embrace Anderson and other family members. Van Pelt said Anderson and his wife were inside the home when Nicholas was struck.
The 5-year-old started school at Pathways Elementary in Ormond Beach two weeks ago, Van Pelt said. Recently, Van Pelt and Nicholas vacationed at a cabin in the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, he said.
He can picture his grandson running to get his favorite blue toolbox to fix his bicycle, Van Pelt said.
"I am devastated," Van Pelt said. "He was the love of my life. He was the light of the neighborhood."
A bundle of carnations leaned against a stump off Linda Avenue on Saturday near the spot where was hit.