Tag Archives: Death

Middle Village crematorium to commemorate famous people it cremated


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Queens’ oldest crematorium takes a look back at its history this summer with an exhibit that memorializes the many celebrities that have been cremated there.

Fresh Pond Crematory plans on opening the exhibit this summer. The project is lead by the crematorium’s nonprofit corporation president Joseph Peter Troia. Since opening in 1884, the Middle Village establishment has processed celebrities like the rapper Biggie Smalls (full name Christopher George Latore Wallace) and the banker John Pierpont Morgan. Troia wants to commemorate this by establishing a series of pictures and symbolic urns for these people.

“We’re doing this to let people know that [cremation] is an option and that many people have chosen it before,” said Troia, who has been working at the crematorium since 1964 when he started as an office clerk.

With only three furnaces, the crematorium holds about 40,000 people in 16,000 niches. These niches are a crematorium’s version of a plot.

“These are not just ashes,” Troia said. “They’re human cremated remains.” And the layout of the facility reflects this belief. Most of the rooms are lined with these niches and given names like Hall of Serenity and the Gothic Room.

Some other notables that made their last corporeal stop here are John Savage, Lou Gehrig, Ringer Lardner and Bruno Richard Hauptmann, the convicted kidnapper and killer of the infant Charles Lindbergh. All of these people, and more, will be memorialized in the crematorium’s exhibit.

While most of these people don’t have their remains in the crematorium, Anton Seidl, a Hungarian composer who worked with Richard Wagner, is placed high in a huge urn in a room that smells like the Metropolitan Museum, with all its age and history.

The crematorium is located near a highly dense area of cemeteries.

“New York City can only hold so many of our dead in the ground,” he said. “We’re conserving land here.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Jamaica man arrested in connection to 2012 shooting death


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Police have arrested and charged a man with murder in connection to the 2012 shooting death of 22-year-old Sydney London.

London was found dead in the driver’s seat of his car, with a gunshot wound to the right side of his torso, near Ring Place and 118th Avenue, on April 11, 2012, police said.

Police charged 30-year-old Sekwan Carter, of Jamaica, Friday with murder and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Death of Baruch student who died in frat ritual ruled homicide


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy New York Daily News

MELISSA CHAN AND CRISTABELLE TUMOLA

Updated 4:15 p.m.

The death of a 19-year-old Baruch College student from Queens who was killed in a fraternity hazing ritual has been ruled a homicide, the Luzerne County Coroner Office confirmed Friday.

Chun “Michael” Deng, a freshman at the school, passed away on Dec. 9 from head injuries during an unsanctioned Pi Delta Psi event in Pennsylvania, according to authorities and the fraternity’s National Executive President Andy Meng.

Deng died from blunt-force head trauma, the coroner office said.

Pocono Mountain Regional Police Chief Harry Lewis plans on meeting with the Monroe County district attorney’s office next week to to discuss the coroner’s findings and the next steps in the case, NBC News reported.

Deng, of Oakland Gardens, was one of four pledges who traveled to the Poconos with more than 30 fraternity members the weekend before his death, the district attorney said.

The blindfolded pledges were reportedly forced to wear weighted bags and navigate a path through a yard, while being repeatedly knocked to the ground.

Following the incident, the national Pi Delta Psi organization severed ties with the Baruch colony and suspended its national new member outreach, according to a statement.

Sources in different chapters of the fraternity told The Courier that versions of the ritual are still being carried out, even though it has been banned for at least 10 years due to its dangerous nature.

Pi Delta Psi, a fast growing Asian-interest society, has 20 chapters in the country and four colonies, including Baruch, according to its website.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST 

Wednesday: A wintry mix this morning will become lighter in the afternoon. Temps nearly steady in the low to mid 30s. Winds NNE at 10 to 20 mph. Snow and ice accumulating 1 to 3 inches. Wednesday night: Cloudy early, becoming mostly clear after midnight. Low near 20. Winds NNW at 10 to 15 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Do the Math

The North Presbyterian Church of Flushing and Resilience NYC Meetup will host a free screening of climate change documentary “Do the Math” from 7-9 p.m. Following the screening, there will be a facilitated discussion about how to make our neighborhoods more sustainable and resilient. A resource guide with links to existing NYC programs will be provided. The Church is located at 25-33 154th St. in Flushing. For more information call 212- 319-3750. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Another round of snow, plus sleet, freezing rain target city

For the second time this week, the city is experiencing a bout of nasty winter weather. Read more: The Queens Courier

Cops looking into death of Jamaica 2-year-old

Police are investigating the death of a toddler after he was discovered unconscious at his Jamaica home Tuesday, the NYPD said. Read more: The Queens Courier

De Blasio won’t march in NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Mayor Bill de Blasio will not be marching in the St. Patrick’s Day parade, deciding to skip one of his city’s signature celebrations because the event organizers refuse to let participants carry pro-gay signs. Read more: NBC New York

NY Assembly Speaker Silver wants to delay Common Core tests

New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has called for at least a two-year delay in the use of Common Core-aligned tests for high-stakes decisions about teachers, principals or students.Read more: Fox New York

Philip Seymour Hoffman autopsy results expected Wednesday

The investigation into actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death continues as detectives await preliminary results of an autopsy, which are expected to be released by the Medical Examiner’s Office on Wednesday. Read more: ABC New York

Cops looking into death of Jamaica 2-year-old


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Police are investigating the death of a toddler after he was discovered unconscious at his Jamaica home Tuesday, the NYPD said.

Officers found the 2-year-old, who police identify as Naizer Reid, unresponsive inside his 156th Street residence about 3:15 p.m., cops said.

He was taken to Jamaica Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The medical examiner will determine the cause of death and the investigation is ongoing, police said.

The young boy’s death comes shortly after the death of another 2-year-old, a girl from the Rockaways, who was discovered unconscious in her home Monday night.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Police investigating death of Rockaways toddler


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Updated 4:15 p.m.

A 2-year-old is dead after she was found unconscious with bruising around her mouth in her Arverne home Monday night, cops said.

Officers, responding to a 9-1-1 call, found the girl, Kevasia Edwards, about 11:30 p.m. unresponsive inside her Beach 56th Place residence, police said.

She was taken to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

There are no arrests and the investigation is ongoing, cops said.

According to the New York Daily News, the child’s mother, who “had a history with the city’s Administration for Children’s Services,” was being questioned.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Maspeth family pushes for safety after fatal accident


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Zoraya B. Torres

Angela Hurtado’s family knows that nothing will bring her back, but they are hoping something will be done to protect other pedestrians. 

Hurtado, 68, was hit and killed while crossing Grand Ave. at 69th Pl. at about 11 a.m. on Jan. 18.

She had been going to play bingo at a local center, according to her daughter, Zoraya B. Torres, who had spoken to her just hours before.

“My mom was a very humble woman, a good-hearted person and a loving mother,” Torres said. “It’s hard to believe that something so horrible could have happened to her.”

It was the last time she would talk to her mother, as a driver in a Mitsubishi Montero swung around the corner to make an illegal left turn, hitting Hurtado, according to the NYPD.

She was rushed to Elmhurst General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Cops arrested the driver, Abel Tinoco, who remained at the scene. Tinoco, 28, was driving with a suspended license, and was charged with aggravated unlicensed operator, police said. His sentence is pending.

But that’s not enough for Torres, who believes more awareness is needed for the intersection.

Just visiting the scene, she noticed other people making the same illegal turn. Torres wants to contact transportation and elected officials to remedy the problem.

“Something needs to be done, because someone else could get hit,” Torres said. “My family is devastated, we are in shock to know that we are not going to see her, or feel her love. I wouldn’t want anybody to go through what we are going through.”

Torres said Hurtado went to church every day. Originally from Ecuador, she moved to America when she was 21 years old and had lived in Queens since.

Hurtado was a former housekeeper for the 3 World Trade Center Marriott Hotel at the time of the 9/11 attacks, but left the building before it was destroyed. She also beat cervical cancer when she was 33.

A wake for Hurtado was held Jan. 21 at Gerard J Neufeld Funeral Home in Elmhurst. On Jan. 22, her body was flown to Ecuador, where she will be buried.

“My mom always would tell us, ‘If anything ever happens to me, I want to go home,’” Torres said. “She asked us to do it, because that’s where her parents are.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

7-year-old boy dies in East Elmhurst fire


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of New York Daily News

A New Year’s Day fire in East Elmhurst left a 7-year-old boy dead and a 13-year-old with second-degree burns, police said.

The blaze broke out about 9 a.m. Wednesday at a home on 90th Street near 31st Avenue, when sparks from a fireplace ignited nearby blankets and pillows, then spread to the furniture, according to the Fire Department. It was under control about an hour later.

The FDNY said the fireplace didn’t have a spark screen and there were no working smoke detectors in the house.

The 7-year-old, identified by police as Christopher Miller, was pronounced dead at the scene. The 13-year-old, who, according to published reports, is his older brother, was taken to Cornell Hospital with second-degree burns, where he was listed in stable condition.

Police said an adult family member suffered smoke inhalation in the fire.

Three firefighters also sustained minor injuries, according to the FDNY.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Fraternity hazing ritual that killed Baruch freshman from Queens was banned


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy New York Daily News

The fraternity hazing ritual that claimed the life of a 19-year-old pledge from Queens last week was banned before the tragic death, according to the brotherhood’s national headquarters.

Chun “Michael” Deng, a Baruch College freshman, died Dec. 9 from head injuries during an unsanctioned Pi Delta Psi event in Pennsylvania, according to authorities and the fraternity’s National Executive President Andy Meng.

Deng, of Oakland Gardens, was one of four pledges who went away to the Poconos last weekend with more than 30 fraternity members, the Monroe County district attorney said.

The blindfolded pledges were reportedly forced to wear weighted bags and navigate a path through a yard, while being repeatedly knocked to the ground.

“I just got to know him,” said Julio Hewu, a Pi Delta Psi fraternity brother at Baruch. “He was good guy.”

Deng died from blunt-force head trauma, the Luzerne County Coroner Office’s said, after he was put on life support at Wilkes-Barre Hospital.

The national Pi Delta Psi organization has since severed ties with the Baruch colony and suspended its national new member outreach, according to a statement.

“Michael will be greatly missed,” said Meng, who is from Queens. “We continue to cooperate with the proper entities and ask all individual members involved to come forward in aiding the investigation.”

Various versions of the ritual are still being carried out, even though it has been banned for at least 10 years due to its dangerous nature, sources in different chapters of the fraternity told The Courier.

“The way it was originally performed and how I experienced it, I’m not surprised that it killed somebody,” said a Pi Delta Psi alumnus, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “I can’t say for sure how it was performed in this deadly incident, but the results are tragic and I pray for Deng’s family.”

“I also pray for the brothers involved in the incident,” the source said, “as I’m sure their intentions were good and they are going through the most terrifying moments of their life to have to live with this.”

Another former fraternity brother said the specific ritual has caused broken legs and concussions.

“It’s really sad, but I’m not shocked,” he said. “It was only a matter of time before this happened.”

Baruch College said in a statement it had no knowledge of the event. The fraternity was not approved to rush a pledge class.

“Michael’s death is a deeply painful reminder that no individual should ever be put into a position where his or her personal safety is in jeopardy,” the college said.

Pi Delta Psi, a fast growing Asian-interest society, has 20 chapters in the country and four colonies, including Baruch, according to its website.

An investigation into Deng’s death is ongoing, the Monroe County Police Department said. The district attorney expects to file charges, according to the Associated Press.
RECOMMENDED STORIES

Forklift falls, kills mechanic in College Point warehouse


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A mechanic working inside a College Point warehouse Thursday morning was crushed and killed by a forklift, a police source said.

The machine used for lifting heavy loads fell on top of the man, whose identity was not yet released, shortly before 11 a.m. on October 3, according to an NYPD spokesperson.

The man suffered severe body trauma, authorities said, and was pronounced dead on scene at 28-00 College Point Boulevard.

Nearby construction workers said about 20 warehouse employees are constantly seen moving forklifts in and out of the facility daily.

“Accidents happen a lot when you’re dealing with heavy machinery,” said James Garabedian, a nearby iron worker. “But people getting pinned by a forklift – that usually doesn’t happen.”

It was unclear which company ran the warehouse. A man who identified himself to police as being in charge of the warehouse declined to comment.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was on site investigating the incident.

Check back with The Queens Courier for updates on this developing story.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Daughter of Elmhurst man killed in subway shove sues


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

The daughter of the Elmhurst man killed when he was pushed onto the subway tracks of a Midtown station in December is suing the MTA, according to reports.

Ki Suck Han’s 20-year-old daughter, Ashley, filed suit in Manhattan Supreme Court yesterday.

Han, 58, was struck by a Brooklyn bound “R” train on December 3 at around 12:30 p.m. at the West 49th Street and 7th Avenue station after suspect Naeem Davis, 30, allegedly shoved him after an altercation.

Davis was charged with intentional murder in the second degree and depraved indifference murder in the second degree, the NYPD said.

In video footage taken on the subway platform right before the shoving incident, Davis was seen cursing and yelling at Han. He also reportedly made statements implicating himself while in custody.

The Han family is seeking reimbursement for monetary damages and funeral expenses.

Flu has reached epidemic proportions


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Governor Cuomo's flickr

The early and rapid spread of this year’s flu season has had deadly consequences.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu has reached epidemic status, causing 7.3 percent of deaths last week. The CDC’s epidemic threshold is marked at 7.2 percent.

Every region of the United States — excluding the Southwest and California — registered a spike in the number of cases of the flu over the past week.

Boston, the city hit hardest by the disease, has seen 700 confirmed cases of flu and four flu-related deaths so far this season. Last year, Boston had only 70 confirmed cases.

The CDC said that flu-associated deaths each season range from 3,000 people to about 49,000 people. Those at increased risk for serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.

Symptoms of the respiratory viral infection include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea.

The CDC cautions those hoping to obtain the flu vaccine that the coveted shot may be difficult to find. Pharmacies have reported an increase in the number of people looking to get vaccinated, and contacting more than one provider may be a necessary part of the search.

A pharmacy staff member at the CVS on Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria said they ran out of the flu shot several days ago and had just been restocked today.

“We have them in stock now but now a lot people are coming in to get them,” said the pharmacy staff member, who estimated they would be out of the vaccine again by the end of the day.

Cops release sketch of suspect in subway push death


| brennison@queenscourier.com

DCPI

A man was killed after being pushed in front of an approaching No. 7 train in Sunnyside last night, the second incident of its kind in New York City this month.

Sunando Sen was pushed as the Flushing-bound train approached the 40th Street station at approximately 8 p.m.

As the train pulled into the station, the suspect rose from a nearby bench and shoved the man, who did not notice her, witnesses said.

The suspect fled out of the station after pushing the victim and was caught on surveillance near the train. There are no security cameras in the station, a situation Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer said he will push to change.

“It does strike me that in a post-9/11 world that there are no cameras at any stop,” Van Bramer said.

She is described as Hispanic, 5-feet-5-inches tall, weighing 190 pounds. She was last seen wearing a blue, gray and white jacket and Nike sneakers. Police are offering a $12,000 reward for capture.

The suspect reportedly was seen mumbling and pacing on the platform before shoving the man.

Ki-Suk Han, 58, of Elmhurst, was killed on December 3 when he was pushed in front of a Q train at the 49th Street-Seventh Avenue station.  Suspect Naeem Davis was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

- Additional reporting by Maggie Hayes

Friends, brother remember Flushing man killed during Hurricane Sandy


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A Flushing man was crushed to death by a tree that crashed into his home Monday night during Hurricane Sandy, police said.

Tony Laino, 29, was pinned in his bedroom at around 7 p.m. on October 29, police said.

The tree ripped through the upper left portion of the two-story home at 47-34 166th Street, according to neighbors.

“The mother came outside screaming,” said Howard Senior, who lives across the street. “There were trucks, lights, all sorts of emergency vehicles. It was a mob scene. Somebody went upstairs, but there was no noise from the room. They didn’t hear a thing. It just crushed him.”

Another neighbor, who did not want to give her name, said the victim’s mother ran down the street and rang her doorbell that night asking for help.

“He was just pinned underneath the tree. There was nothing that could be done,” she said. “The poor mother was helpless. It took a very long time to even try and get in there — that’s how big the tree was.”

The collapse rendered the rest of the house unstable, the neighbor said, adding that emergency responders pulled out “very quickly.”

“The winds were blowing. It was just terrifying,” she said. “It’s just a tragedy.”

Laino lived with his parents and one of two brothers, neighbors and friends said. There were no other reported injuries in the home.

A man who identified himself only as Laino’s brother wept outside the scene on Tuesday morning.

“He was an amazing person,” he said. “He always wanted to help people. He was a great man.”

Neighbors and an overwhelming outpouring of Facebook friends remembered Laino — the youngest of three brothers and a driver for Ace Party & Tent Rental — as an idol to kids on the block and a funny, cheerful person.

“Although my heart is heavy, I’ll never forget how you made me smile,” friend Deirdre Mooney posted on his Facebook wall Tuesday morning. “I hope you’re one of [the] first faces I see on the other side.”

Danielle Esposito wrote about how Laino “always made me feel happy and beautiful and endlessly made me laugh with his antics.”

“Honestly have no idea how we are going to do this,” she said.

Friend Adam Lombardi told the Courier Laino was a “go-getter, always looking to improve himself.”

“I think I speak for the entire neighborhood when I say it’s a tragic loss and he’s going to be missed,” he said.

Family and neighbors said the tragedy could have been averted. The Lainos tried time and time again to get the city to remove the towering threat, they said.

“I’ve been telling them to take this tree down for 20 f—–g years,” Laino’s brother said.

The Parks Department directed comment to the city’s joint information center, which did not immediately respond.

Senior said the tree was “too big, too dangerous” as he watched it sway during the storm.

“It’s a solid tree, but it started to rock,” he said. “I said ‘Son of a gun, that’s going to come down.’”

College Point woman allegedly died of West Nile


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Maria Coppola 2w

The family of a 71-year-old College Point woman who allegedly died of West Nile virus said they sway between incredible sadness and extreme anger at the city.

“This could have been prevented. They should have sprayed. They shouldn’t wait for a fatality to happen,” said Francis Coppola, 50.

He said his mother, Maria Coppola, was bitten by mosquitoes three times — on the eye, ear and arm — last year on August 10, while sitting outside on her porch. While he said the family was unsure where exactly she contracted the virus, he said she did not travel and was bedridden even before she was allegedly diagnosed with the disease soon after in September. She died on March 31 of this year.

Family members pointed to nearby areas of stagnant water as close as 200 yards away — and flu-like symptoms Maria suffered, indicative of the virus — as obvious signs of West Nile, but the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said they are looking into the death before deeming Coppola another West Nile victim.

“The Health Department is investigating a report that a Queens woman died from complications of West Nile virus,” the agency said in a statement.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the United States saw 44 total cases of West Nile virus — which resulted in two deaths — last year. Statistics on the health department’s website show 181 mosquito pools were found in New York City in 2011, including 89 in Queens, and of the nine severe cases of West Nile reported then, four were from Queens.

The disease first emerged in the country in 1999, and nearly all cases were detected within a 75-mile radius of New York City, the CDC said. Since then, the agency said more than 30,000 people have been affected and more than 1,200 have died.

City health officials said the department sprayed the College Point area three times last year. They also said all catch basins in the neighborhood were treated three times as well.

Still, the family said there were actually no sprays conducted, and efforts were not enough to deter mosquitoes from breeding near three stagnant water sources nearby. Francis said the family’s home is located near two sewer pools, high rising weeds on the nearby waterfront and a broken pothole that fills with rain water on 23rd Avenue and 119th Street.

Their complaints have fallen on deaf ears, he said.

“It’s clearly known that this area is ground zero,” Francis said. “The mayor knows we have this going on here. Do something about it. I don’t want to start pandemonium, but apparently we have already.”

Maria helped operate a family-run pizzeria in College Point with her husband of 55 years, Frank, the family said. Francis said his mother came to America with only $2 in her pocket and died a successful woman with five children.

“It’s very tough,” husband Frank, 79, said through tears. “She was my right arm. She was everything to me. She was cut short of her life.”