By KERRY BURKE
and CARRIE MELAGO
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS
A Brooklyn father getting a tattoo called "Last Rites" inked into his flesh passed out and crashed headfirst into a glass counter yesterday, killing himself, police and witnesses said.
Joaquin Laguer, 27, nearly was decapitated during the horrific accident inside Buzz Tattoo, an unlicensed parlor in East Williamsburg.
"There was nothing I could do," said shaken tattoo artist Julio Ramos, 36. "I was kneeling next to him, praying to God. My assistant said, 'He's gone.'"
Laguer, an aspiring model and rapper, felt faint soon after Ramos finished inking the outline of an abstract, wizardlike tattoo onto his right forearm.
Saying he was hungry, Laguer walked over to a glass counter where he'd placed a Spanish takeout meal of half a chicken, fried plantains and rice.
But before he could reach the food, he passed out and slammed into the front of the counter at 2 p.m. The shattering glass sliced deeply into his neck, Ramos said.
"There was no saving him," said Ramos' assistant, Wilson Fernandez, 24.
Laguer, who had a 2-year-old daughter, was rushed to Woodhull Hospital, where he was declared dead at 2:22 p.m.
His grieving girlfriend, Shanequa Neal, said Laguer had eight tattoos and wanted another featuring a picture of their daughter, J'lynn. When he couldn't afford it, he chose another tattoo out of a catalog.
Neal was stunned by the irony of the name of the "Last Rites" image he had selected. "It was like it was his time," she said.
Laguer's mother, Ruthie Stewart, said her son had been plagued with frequent fainting spells throughout his life. The cause of the fainting was never diagnosed, largely because he did not have health insurance and couldn't afford to go to a specialist, his mother said.
"If he had fallen anywhere else, he would be here now," said Stewart, who has two teardrops tattooed under her left eye.
Laguer worked as a security guard to pay bills but had done professional modeling and dreamed of a music career. While at Paul Robeson High School in Brooklyn, he amassed a roomful of trophies for baseball, basketball and football.
His heartbroken girlfriend could not bring herself to tell J'lynn of her dad's death last night. She said she wished she had answered his phone call from the parlor shortly before the deadly accident.
"Maybe he wasn't feeling good, and I could have got him to go home," she said. "I just wish I could hear his voice."
Ramos, who said he has done tattoos for Knicks star Stephon Marbury and Los Angeles Laker Lamar Odom, was slapped with three violations for failing to have or post a license and for not maintaining proper records.
"I just wish it had never happened," he said, while mopping up blood last night. "I wish he'd gone home to his kid."