Bail set at $1 million for driver of car that killed 10-year-old

Bail set at $1 million for driver of car that killed 10-year-old

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Work crews removed the wreckage of the Avraham family’s Honda Friday morning. JOSH LIPOWSKY

Bail has been set at $1 million for Harold Saenz, the 22-year-old Bergenfield man who crashed into a car driven by Helene Avraham of Fair Lawn Thursday night, killing her 10-year-old daughter and critically injuring a 14-year-old passenger. Saenz, who suffered a fractured femur bone and sinus fractures in the crash that killed Miriam Avraham, was moved over the weekend from Hackensack University Medical Center to the Bergen County Jail. He will be arraigned on Thursday on charges of first-degree felony murder, aggravated manslaughter, second-degree aggravated assault, and third-degree burglary.

Meanwhile, Solomon Schechter Day School in New Milford is in mourning for Miriam, a sixth-grader there- and so, judging by telephone calls and e-mails to The Jewish Standard, is the entire community.

Miriam, her mother, her brother Shachar, and his friend Eric Baumer were en route to a sukkah party at the school, where a Torah, written by school families throughout the year, was dedicated in a festive ceremony. The Fair Lawn family never arrived, and school officials did not learn about the fatal accident until 10:30 Thursday night. The brother and sister’s father, Moshe Avraham, was not in the car.

Shachar and his friend, both Schechter graduates, are Frisch School ninth-graders. Shachar and his mother were released from HUMC on Friday. Eric was critically injured, but according to an e-mail from Dr. Kalman Stein, Frisch’s principal, he is in stable condition at Hackensack University Hospital and Medical Center. Rabbi John Krug, Frisch’s dean of student life, added that Eric is in the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit.

Elissa Maier, president of Schechter’s board of trustees, described Miriam as “a bright, lovely little girl, very well-behaved, very animated, very full of life.” She was “a lovely actress,” Maier added. “She had just received her part as Golda in the play they’re doing, ‘Fiddler on the Roof.’ She was very well-liked and is very missed by her classmates. They are truly heartbroken.”

A number of rabbis – including Kenneth Berger of Temple Beth Sholom, Teaneck; David-Seth Kirschner of Temple Emanu-El in Closter; Adina Lewittes of Sha’ar in Demarest; and Ben Shull of Temple Emanuel of the Pascack Valley in Woodcliff Lake – “came [Friday] morning to join our students in tefillah,” Maier said.

Also, she said, “school psychologists were here meeting with all the students, working in small groups. Right now,” she added, “we are concentrating on helping the kids and our faculty through this.

Frisch is closed through Thursday in observance of the holidays. Nevertheless Krug said, grief counselors are available for those in need.

A graveside funeral for Miriam was held on Friday at Beth-El Cemetery in Paramus.

According to police reports, Saenz stole a Mercedes Thursday evening from a Bergenfield resident who had left his keys in the ignition. The resident and police gave chase. Saenz was allegedly speeding down New Bridge Road in New Milford when he struck the Avrahams’ Honda, which was making a left turn onto New Bridge from The Boulevard. The Honda was torn in half, with Miriam and Eric in the back seat.

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