Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Hurricane Sandy: Parents, children & heroes among dead
Sandy’s destructive path through the New York area was also deadly.
The storm killed at least 35 people, including a Staten Island cop who died saving his family, and a young Brooklyn couple crushed by a tree while walking their dog.
As of late last night, the death toll had risen to 22 in the city and 13 in the suburbs, including six in New Jersey, three in Westchester, two in Suffolk and two in Nassau.
At least four of the dead were children.
“We expect numbers to go up,’’ Mayor Bloomberg said.
The deaths included gripping tales of heroism — and terrible tragedies.
NYPD Officer Artur Kasprzak, 29 — a six-year veteran of Manhattan’s First Precinct — died after saving seven family members, including a 15-month-old boy, stuck in their flooded home on Doty Avenue in South Beach.
He was washed into the basement by a 10-foot tide.
“He was in the basement getting family out when they lost sight of him,” a source said.
His body was found at 7 a.m. yesterday.
Rescuers on Staten Island also frantically searched for two kids, 2 and 4, who went missing Monday night when their mother’s SUV was flipped over by waves on Father Capodanno Boulevard.
The search was called off after dark. The kids are presumed dead, a source said.
In Brooklyn, high-school teacher Jessie Streich-Kest and her boyfriend, Jacob Vogelman, both 24, were crushed by a falling tree while walking their dog, Max, on Ditmas Avenue at around 7 a.m. yesterday.
The dog survived and was taken to an emergency veterinary hospital.
Streich-Kest taught at the Brooklyn School of Social Justice and was a social activist with New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets.
“I can’t believe she is not here anymore,” said friend Matt MacLean. “Her passion for animal welfare, political activism and her new career as a high-school teacher were so amazing.”
A Queens man, too, was killed by a tree.
Tony Laino, 29, of Flushing, was sleeping at about 7 p.m. Monday when the tree crashed through his home and crushed him in his bed.
Neighbors and relatives said that his family had pleaded with the city to remove the tree that wound up killing him — but that officials told them it was healthy enough to stay.
“The Parks Department was here last month cutting trees, but they let this one stay,” said neighbor Joanne Evangelista, 66.
Laino’s heartbroken fiancée, Danielle Valente, couldn’t hold back her tears as she stared at the home where her would-be husband died.
“This is awful,” Valente said, sobbing. “I don’t want to go back. I don’t want to be by myself.”
Two people were found dead in downtown Manhattan: A 55-year-old man pushed by water into a commercial building on 90 Broad St., and a parking attendant in his 40s found dead on the first floor of the garage where he worked.
Two Westchester boys — Jack Baumler, 11, and Michael Robson, 13 — were crushed by an oak tree that fell into the family room of Jack’s North Salem home Monday at 7:45 p.m.
“Heaven got two all-stars way too soon,” said a tearful Daniel Seymour, Jack’s uncle, outside the destroyed home on Bonnieview Street.
“Our hearts are broken.”
The boys’ neighbors and family members — who suffered minor injuries in the incident — worked with local firefighters in an intense, debris-filled operation that took several hours to chop the tree and clear the area.
In Mendham Township, NJ, two parents driving home with their children, ages 11 and 14, were also crushed by a tree at 7:30 p.m. Monday as they tried to clear a path home.
The parents had gotten out of their truck to remove one tree from their path when a second one fell on them — killing them in front of their children.
Angela Dresch — an eighth-grader at Totten Intermediate School on Staten Island — was found dead yesterday morning after a massive wave destroyed her home and several neighboring houses.
Her father, George, was still missing last night. Her mother, Patricia, a teacher at Tottenville’s Our Lady Help of Christians School, was in critical condition at Staten Island University Hospital in Prince’s Bay.
Queens resident Lauren Abraham, 23, was electrocuted Monday when she got too close to downed power lines on her block, neighbors said.
The recent college grad stepped outside her home in South Richmond Hill at 8:30 p.m. to snap pictures — and was zapped by the wire.
“I looked out my window and I saw the girl across the street taking pictures of the live wire sparking near my car, so I ran outside to move my car,” said neighbor Mahendra Chetram, 35.
“Her body was gyrating; smoke was coming from her,” Chetram said.