A Queens man who died after a tragic e-scooter crash that prompted an agonizing decision about whether to keep him on life support was remembered Sunday as a family provider.
Derrick Cristobal, 31, was riding the stand-on a scooter near the corner of 73rd St. and the Queens Blvd. Service Road in Maspeth when he lost control around 4:20 p.m. Dec. 19, according to police.
He was thrown to the pavement and suffered head injuries, but was conscious and awake when medics arrived, cops said.
Cristobal was on his way to pick up his beloved daughter, Elizabeth, when he crashed, said the man’s brother, Arrizon Cristobal.
He was taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center in stable condition, but he continued to worsen over the following days.
“When my sister got to the hospital, he was yawning, sleeping. He didn’t remember my sister and he wasn’t talking, but you could tell he doesn’t recognize anyone,” Arrizon Cristobal told the Daily News.
His long-time partner, Vanessa Balondo, noticed his consciousness slowly declining.
“Even the hospital isn’t sure what happened to him,” she said. “We are just hoping we can find closure on what happened to him.”
On his ninth day in the hospital, doctors presented his family with an unimaginable choice.
“They gave us an option of a surgery … they were going to take out half of his skull to release the pressure but when they do that, there’s a possibility of him dying and if it is successful, there is a 100% chance that he will not be the same person anymore,” said Arrizon Cristobal, 26.
“He would live the rest of his life with a tube in his throat or mouth for air and tube in his stomach for food.”
Had the surgery been successful, Cristobal would have needed round-the-clock, individualized care.
“We made a decision based on what he would want and what his wife would want,” said Arrizon Cristobal.
Cristobal died on the morning of Dec. 30, 11 days after he had been admitted.
“Everything kind of happened fast … it’s difficult, yes, but there were moments where it felt like it was him saying goodbye in a way,” the mourning brother said.
Cristobal rode a VSett 9+ electric scooter, which he got about two years ago, according to Balondo.
“We are just hoping we can find closure on what happened to him,” said Balondo, 31. “It’s not giving us peace of mind because it’s like why did he have such a bad brain injury even though there wasn’t a collision.”
Cristobal lived in Elmhurst and had a daughter with Balondo, whom he met while attending high school in the Philippines. After a long-distance relationship, he moved to New York to be with her.
“Derrick and I were high school lovers, he was my first boyfriend,” said Balondo. “Derrick is just a typical guy, but his love is genuine.”
In 2021, the couple had their daughter.
“Because of him I know that true love exists, especially the love he gave to Elizabeth,” Balondo said of their daughter. “It’s very unconditional because every day, he gives his best.”
“He would do everything,” Balondo added. “Cooking, laundry, he always does everything without complaining.”
The couple was hoping to have another child together.
“Every time Derrick sees Elizabeth playing by herself, he would want her to have another sibling to play with,” Balondo said. “It’s really hard. I don’t know how to start again without him.”
Cristobal spent the last eight years of his life working at Target.
“He goes to work Monday through Friday, 7 to 3. When he comes home he, doesn’t rest — he will start cooking for us,” said Balondo. “He always made me a priority, every day he gave his best to take care of Elizabeth.”
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