Skokie boy, killed in crash, remembered as ‘sweet, sensitive’
Carter Vo, when he was in Mandy Yom's kindergarten class at Meyer School in Skokie in 2010. | TAMARA BELL~SUN-TIMES MEDIA
Updated: June 19, 2012 2:30PM
Before Carter Vo came to Madison School in Skokie, the 8-year-old boy, who was tragically killed Monday while out for a bicycle ride, was a student at Meyer School in Skokie School District 73.5.
Vo only two years ago entered school for the first time as a student in Mandy Yom’s kindergarten class for students learning to speak English, sometimes for the first time.
Vo was from Vietnam and immediately stood out as a “very sensitive and sweet boy,” said Meyer School Principal Alison Gordon.
“I remember him perfectly,” Gordon said. “He was just a very sweet, sensitive, loving boy. That’s what we all remember. He was a special
Gordon remembers him as needing care, but he was always loving and friendly. Yom said her student didn’t have a biological mother living with him, and he had never been to school before when he walked into her class for the first time.
“We were not only his teachers but we were like his mom,” Yom said. “He had a lot of male role models but not a lot of female role models.”
Like the principal, Yom, too, remembers Vo as being sweet and sensitive, easy to like.
“He was very inquisitive,” she said. “He had some social language when he came in so he wasn’t a newcomer.”
He was “a typical boy,” she said. He liked trains, Legos, blocks and building.
“With academics, he needed a little more assistance, which is common at that age,” Yom said. “He was really obsessed with trains for a time. He asked a lot of really good questions and was a good observer. He was a thinker.”
There was one scare Meyer School administrators had with the kindergartner. Vo had a seizure on the school grounds, but he recovered. The school was not aware until after the incident that he had asthma, Yom recalled.
Faculty from his current school, Madison, also remembered Vo as loving and sensitive.
Principal Chelsey Maxwell said the staff was “very close” to Vo. “It’s a hard time for our school,” she said.
Vo’s mother and father have visited the accident scene several times since Monday, sharing stories about their son and trying to make sense of a senseless tragedy.
On Wednesday, the same day they and others recalled with fondness the 8-year-old boy, a Skokie woman appeared in bond court in connection with the fatal car crash.
Hanin Goma, 23, of the 5000 block of Wright Terrace, Skokie, was charged with one count of felony aggravated driving under the influence resulting in death and one count of misdemeanor driving under the influence of drugs. She was also cited with failure to yield at a stop intersection and failure to provide proof of valid insurance.
Since the crash, which occurred at 4:23 p.m. Monday at St. Louis Avenue and Main Street, misinformation has circulated regarding the incident.
Although some in the area complained about drivers often speeding down Main Street, speed in no way factored into the crash, police said.
Police said Goma was at a stop sign and struck a vehicle at an angle as she was making a turn. She kept going, traveling over the median and onto a sidewalk where the boy was located. Police did not know whether the boy was stopped or riding the bicycle at the time the suspect’s vehicle struck him.
Located at the northeast corner of the intersection, the boy and the bicycle were carried along by the runaway vehicle before it crashed into a parked car and came to rest.
Other misreported information suggested that Goma was driving a van and with a child inside, neither of which is true. Goma was alone when she drove a 1997 Toyota Camry, police said, and she struck a van, which caused her to lose control of her Toyota.
Before the charges were made public Wednesday, the village issued a statement that engineers would look at the safety conditions at the intersection but believed the crash was a result of human error.
Judge Margarite Quinn Wednesday ordered Goma held on $250,000 bond during the hearing at the Skokie courthouse.
Prosecutors said Goma told investigators she had smoked pot earlier Monday, and a man told police he had smoked the marijuana with her.
She was taken to Skokie Hospital, where tests found the drugs in her system, prosecutors said.
Goma’s next court appearance is scheduled for 9 a.m. June 12 in Skokie.