The Glen Cove community is mourning the loss of a 7-year-old boy, and praying for the recovery of his twin brother. The Landing Elementary School third-graders were involved in a horrific car accident early last Sunday that claimed the life of 37-year-old Troy Carter and his son, Carmello. The boy’s brother and sister, 7-year-old Romello and Tiara, 11, are in the hospital after sustaining serious injuries in the accident, which happened in New Rochelle.
“Carmello was so kind and friendly,” his mother, Candice Edwards, said. “Everybody loved him. He was such a good kid.”
The crash, which happened at around 1:30 a.m. Sunday, is being investigated by the New Rochelle Police Department. Authorities responded to the report of a car accident near a northbound Hutchinson River Parkway exit ramp, where a gray Nissan Altima had crashed into a brick retaining wall. The driver, Troy Carter, of Hempstead, and Carmello were pronounced dead at the scene, according to police. Romello and Tiara were taken to Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx.
This week, Edwards was grieving the loss of one son while the other was undergoing surgery for multiple internal injuries. On Tuesday morning, shortly after Romello went in for his first major surgery, Edwards said she believed he would pull through. “He’s a fighter,” she said. “He keeps defying the odds.”
She described her sons as best friends who shared many interests and activities, from riding bikes and scooters around their Glen Cove neighborhood, to playing Minecraft and Fortnite with friends. Both boys also played in the Glen Cove Junior Baseball and Softball League, and in the Glen Cove Junior Soccer League. Though they were similar, Edwards said, the pair had different personalities, with Carmello being more cautious and reserved. He was also a strict rule follower, particularly during the pandemic.
“He always kept his mask on, even in the house,” she recalled.
He was also obsessed with cooking shows, though he was a picky eater. “He thought barbecue sauce made everything taste better,” she said. “He put it on everything.”
Carmello would have turned 8 on Oct. 17.
Edwards created a GoFundMe campaign on Monday, which had raised more than $58,000 as of press time, to cover medical and funeral expenses. The outpouring of support underscores how much of an impact the boys have had on the community.
“To know him is to love him,” Edwards wrote of Carmello. “He was a very loving, caring, polite, energetic, fearless, amazing little boy. He will forever be loved and missed. I truly believe he is no longer with us because God needed him for something better.”
Carmello’s former teacher, Meryl Gordon, described him as a kind, happy and imaginative child who truly cared for others. “He made me feel loved by the way he treated me,” she said. “Not all kids can do that.”
Gordon taught Carmello for two years at Deasy Elementary School, starting in first grade and continuing through last year. “Having the same class for two years, through the pandemic and remote learning, it creates a special bond,” she said.
When Gordon heard the news about Carmello’s death, she contacted all of the parents of his former classmates, so they would be prepared when their children came home from school. She said she had spoken with and FaceTimed with several, and even visited with one. “His friends are so sad,” she said, “and sometimes it just helps to see a familiar face.”
Third-grader Sarissa Yanes met the boys as an infant in daycare. “Carmello was my best friend,” she said. “We always played together. I already miss him.”
Vittoria Blanco, also in third grade, said she has known him since she was 3. “We played together at recess and in school,” she said. “He would help me if I was stuck on something. I miss him so much.”
Classmate Hendrick Diaz described Carmello as funny and playful, and said they shared many interests, including Roblox and soccer. “We were best friends for a long time,” Hendrick said. “I’m going to miss him so much.”
Jennifer Cleary was Romello’s teacher for both first and second grades at Deasy, and, like Gordon, has been in contact with her former students. “He is the most lovable child you’ve ever met,” she said of Romello. “He wants to start each day with a hug and end every day with a hug. He’s a busy, active 7-year-old, so kindhearted. You just can’t help but love him.”
This week, Cleary said, the Deasy school community has been affected by the tragic news, though the twins had moved on to Landing last month. “He’s touched so many lives so far,” she said of her former student. “Everybody knew them — all the teachers, the office staff, the custodians. They’re just adorable little boys.”
Working with her students through the challenges of the pandemic and remote learning, Cleary said, she got to know them and their families. Edwards’s support, she said, would help Romello. “She’s his biggest cheerleader,” Cleary said. “She works very hard and is a really good mom.”
While she knows that Romello has a long road to recovery ahead, she said she believed he would pull through. “I feel it in my bones that he’ll be OK,” Cleary said. “He’s overcome so much already in his life, and has always pushed through.”