Lantana boy’s death has school principal ‘smiling and crying’


A day before he died, 8-year-old LeAndre Desronvil greeted his elementary-school principal in his typical fashion — a running start followed by a tight bear hug and a toothy grin.

“He would look at you with that smile that was like no other smile,” said Marie A. Turchiaro, the principal at Palm Beach Maritime Academy for the past 17 years. “It just lit up a room. I’d rubbed the top of his head like I always did and off he went. That was every time I saw him. He was always delighted to see me, to see everybody.

“I can’t think about him without smiling and crying all at the same time.”

LeAndre, a third-grader, was killed Wednesday night after he was struck by a vehicle while attempting to cross Lantana Road, just east of Congress Avenue and near the Lantana airport.

According to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, LeAndre was with a group of children on the bustling road’s median when he apparently tried to beat a 2017 Chevrolet Colorado to the south side of the street.

The Chevrolet, traveling eastbound in the center lane, hit LeAndre, killing him instantly. The driver remained on the scene and is not facing charges, according to PBSO.

A family friend said LeAndre was struck while playing a game of “chicken” with oncoming traffic, probably at the behest of older children he was with. According to PBSO, the children accompanying LeAndre fled the area after the crash.

Grief counselors were at Maritime Academy’s two Lantana campuses — an elementary school east of Interstate 95 on Lantana Road and a middle and high school just west of Dixie Highway — on Thursday and Friday. Parents were also informed of the incident Thursday by the school’s administration.

The parent of a Maritime Academy student notified The Post on Thursday of an incident in October where a group of older students from the school’s campus near Federal Highway jumped in front of her vehicle. The parent said “a few” children took part, but complained that “only one child got reprimanded … ”

Turchiaro said the situation was addressed immediately by one of her assistant principals and that two children were spoken to. As was the case with LeAndre, Turchiaro pointed out that the October incident took place off campus and after school hours.

“We want our kids to be safe, but we can only do so much,” Turchiaro said. “We only have jurisdiction while the kids are in school. While we can talk to them about what they do after school, we just supervise them until they leave school. But even so, because this was a dangerous situation, of course we addressed it.”

The two situations appear different in one important way. LeAndre was killed while crossing Lantana Road, a six-lane road with a posted speed limit of 45 mph, but where vehicles regularly exceed the maximum speed. The incident in October took place in the area of East Coast Avenue, a two-lane road west of Dixie Highway with a posted speed limit of 30 mph.

Turchiaro said she’s “tuned in” to what the 1,050 students at her school are involved with and that talk of children playing chicken “wasn’t even on the radar.” The game of chicken wasn’t familiar to her, Turchiaro said, until she heard and read news reports of LeAndre’s death.

“If this had been a problem, I would have been all over,” Turchiaro said.



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