Fatally injured Clairton student 'loved everything,' grieving aunt says
Connor Zink was a boy full of energy who loved sports, skateboards and playing with toy cars.
“He had a great sense of humor, like his dad, and was very outgoing, like me,” Connor's aunt Ashley Zink said Saturday. “He loved everything.”
Connor was struck and killed by a vehicle while playing on his skateboard outside his grandfather Dale Zink's home along the 1400 block of Gilmore Drive in Jefferson Hills Friday around 9 p.m.
The red-headed, blue-eyed child from Elizabeth was a second-grader at Clairton Elementary School. He celebrated his 8th birthday in January.
“He loved cleanliness and he was very well-mannered,” Connor's grandmother Kathleen Zink said. “I taught him that. He has a thousand cars. He loved NASCAR, sitting and watching the race with his grandma. I don't understand why he had to go.”
Police said they received the call Friday at about 9:12 p.m. and found Connor unresponsive with multiple injuries. He was taken to Jefferson Regional Medical Center.
Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office said Connor was pronounced dead at 10:43. Cause of death was multiple blunt force trauma to the head, truck and extremities.
The driver told police he did not see the child until the last second and was unable to avoid hitting him.
Allegheny County homicide detectives are investigating. Authorities did not release any other information.
Connor's normal curfew was 9 p.m., but family members said he begged to play outside for at least five more minutes.
“I'm going to remember him every day when I get up,” Dale Zink said. “We ate breakfast together. We shared bowls of cereal together. He came out and helped me water the grass. He was going to help put the pool up today. Everybody on this street loved him. They all knew my grandson.”
A wooden cross, a blue bicycle, flowers, teddy bears, and balloons with stars, Spiderman and SpongeBob were some of the items placed at a makeshift memorial near the scene Saturday.
The driver met with family members there Saturday evening. He brought a bear and a flower and was visibly shaken, crying while embracing those around him.
He declined to give reporters his name, saying only that he is sorry and would pray for the family.
“It helps a lot to know who it was,” Ashley Zink said, “to know he did everything that he could (to avoid Connor).”
Other family and friends offered their condolences.
“I've been contacted all day through phone calls, text messages, Facebook, several people that I don't even know just pouring out their sympathies and prayers to us,” Ashley Zink said, “The whole neighborhood has sent their condolences.”
Clairton City School District spokesperson Alexis Trubiani said grief counselors will be at the school Monday for students and staff.
Second-grade teachers and students will make a flower bed at the school and plant flowers at Connor's Clairton home.
“Connor was a little boy full of energy and loved by his classmates and teachers,” Trubiani said. “He will be extremely missed by the Clairton City School District community.”
Visitation will be Tuesday from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. at the A.J Bekavac Funeral Home, 555 Fifth St., Clairton. Service will take place in the funeral home Wednesday at 10 a.m. followed by burial at Round Hill Cemetery in Elizabeth Township.
A spaghetti dinner in remembrance of Connor is planned for May 26 at Wilson Presbyterian Church, 400 N. Fourth Street in Clairton.
Dale Zink said plans to approach borough officials about installing traffic control devices along the street.
“We don't want this to happen ever again,” he said.
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965 or email@example.com.