Tag Archives: Philadelphia

Douglaston native killed in Amtrak derailment


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield

A 47-year-old real estate executive, formerly from Douglaston, has been identified as one of the eight victims of Tuesday night’s Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia.

Laura Finamore, a senior account director at Cushman & Wakefield, grew up in Douglaston and graduated from Benjamin Cardozo High School and George Washington University. She was living in Manhattan immediately prior to her death.

Finamore joined Cushman & Wakefield in 2008 and according to her family was known among her peers as “someone who would go above and beyond for her clients, to always exceed their expectations.”

“Laura’s smile could light up a room and her infectious laughter will be remembered by many for years to come. She was always there when you needed her — with a hug, encouraging words or a pat on the back,” her family said in a statement.

Finamore is survived by her parents Cynthia and Richard, three brothers, Michael, Paul and Peter, sisters-in-law, nephews and nieces.

“Laura was an incredibly loving and giving person, touching many people each and every day through her generous spirit, thoughtfulness and compassion for others,” her family said. “She will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved her.”

Funeral services for Finamore will be at Fairchild Sons Inc. in Manhasset, New York. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in her name.

The National Transportation Safety Board confirmed Wednesday that Amtrak train 188 was traveling at more than 100 mph, double the speed, as it was entering a sharp curve before derailing. Before entering the curve, the speed limit is reportedly 70 mph.

In addition to the eight people who died in the accident, more than 200 people were injured, including the conductor and engineer.

Another one of the victims was 20-year-old Justin Zemser, a naval midshipman, who was on leave and heading home to visit his family in Rockaway.

An investigation is still ongoing to determine the cause of the derailment.

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20-year-old Rockaway man among seven dead in Amtrak derailment


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo via Facebook

Updated Thursday, May 14 10:43 a.m. 

A 20-year-old naval midshipman from Rockaway Beach, who was on his way home, is among the seven people killed after an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia Tuesday night, according to reports.

Justin Zemser, who was on leave, as a cadet at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland was on his way home to visit family in Rockaway.

The academy confirmed the death of Zemser, who was a sophmore midshipman third class. He was a member of the 17th Company at the academy, an English major and academic honor student. Zemser was also on the Navy Sprint Football Team, the Jewish Midshipman Club, and the Semper Fi Society.

“Justin was a talented, highly respected young man with a tremendously bright future. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the Zemser family, and our extended USNA family, during this very difficult time,” said Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Walter “Ted” Carter.

Zemser’s parents released a statement on a Facebook page created in memory of their son, who was valedictorian at Channel View High School and finishing his second year at the academy. The page, titled “RIP Justin Zemser” garnered over 3,000 likes and features a profile photo of the young man with his mother, who lost her only child.

“He was a loving son, nephew and cousin, who was very community minded,” the statement said. “This tragedy has shocked us in the worst way and we wish to spend this time grieving with out close family and friends.”

State Senator Joseph Addabbo, whose district covers the Rockaways, sent out his condolences to Zemser’s family and called the young man  a “good Rockaway neighbor.”

“My deepest condolences and prayers go out to the family of Justin Zemser, a Rockaway resident who passed away as a result of the Amtrak train derailment Tuesday night. News of his passing was reported by the media. I understand Justin was returning home from his studies at the U.S. Naval Academy,” Addabbo said. “Many in Rockaway, including my staff member Sandee Doremus, had known Justin since he was a child and knew him to be a good Rockaway neighbor. Justin’s commitment to serve our country is still and always will be greatly appreciated.”

Councilman Eric Ulrich, who represents the Rockaways, also sent out his condolences to the family of the cadet, who was a former intern at his office.

“Today, the Rockaway community mourns the death of Justin Zemser, a local resident and former intern in my office, who lost his life last night in the tragic Amtrak train derailment. Justin was truly a bright, talented and patriotic young man,” Ulrich said. “My deepest prayers and sympathy go out to his family and friends who are grieving during this very difficult time. He will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved him.”

Zemser was also an intern at Councilman Donovan Richards’s office, who expressed his sadness upon hearing the news of his death.

Justin Zemser and Councilman Donovan Richards. (Photo courtesy of Councilman Richard's office)

Justin Zemser and Councilman Donovan Richards. (Photo courtesy of Councilman Richard’s office)

“I was greatly pained by last night’s train derailment, a pain that quickly intensified when I recognized one of the victims,” Richards said. “Justin Zemser showed great commitment and initiative as an intern in our office, well before he dedicated his life to our country by joining the U.S. Naval Academy. He was a rising star that will be greatly missed by the Rockaway community. His family is in my prayers and my office is always open if there is any way in which we can help.”

According to reports, the Amtrak train, which had left Washington and was heading to New York, derailed around 9:30 p.m. in the Port Richmond neighborhood of Philadelphia.

More than 200 people were wounded, including the train’s conductor.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of life from Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 that derailed north of Philadelphia Tuesday evening,” Amtrak said in a statement.

Emergency responders are on scene and the investigation is still ongoing to determine the cause of the derailment.

The National Transportation Safety Board confirmed Wednesday the train was traveling at more than 100 mph, double the speed limit, as it was entering a sharp curve before derailing. Before entering the curve, the speed limit is reportedly 70 mph.

Service will be provided between Washington and Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Philadelphia, and New York and Boston, according to Amtrak. There will be no Amtrak service between New York and Philadelphia, but New Jersey Transit will honor Amtrak tickets between New York City and Trenton.

Anyone with questions about friends or family on the train can call the Amtrak Incident Hotline at 800-523-9101.

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Philadelphia man arrested for killing aunt at her Queens Village home


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

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Updated Sunday, March 15, 11:21 a.m. 

The NYPD charged a Philadelphia man with stabbing his aunt to death with an ice pick inside her Queens Village home last October, authorities said.

Richie Desauguste, 27, was booked on second-degree murder and weapons possession charges for the Oct. 24, 2014, murder of Rose Ragsdale, 66, of 105th Avenue, police announced early Saturday.

Ragsdale was asleep in her bedroom just before 3:20 a.m. that morning when she awoke and spotted a masked intruder, according to police.

When Ragsdale screamed, Desauguste allegedly pulled out an ice pick and stabbed her in the chest and arm. He fled the home but dropped the ice pick at the scene.

Ragsdale, a school bus matron, was pronounced dead at Long Island Jewish Medical Center.

Detectives located Desauguste inside an Applebee’s restaurant at 1710 Hempstead Tpke. in Elmont on Thursday, police sources said. He was subsequently charged with Ragsdale’s murder following questioning.

Police said a family dispute over money may have been the motive in Ragsdale’s killing.

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Mayor de Blasio calls Biden LaGuardia comments ‘inappropriate’


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

File photo

Mayor de Blasio, responding to comments Vice President Joe Biden made a day earlier comparing LaGuardia Airport to a third world country, called his words “inappropriate.”

It was not his  “finest moment,” the mayor said, answering reporters’ questions at a press conference Friday.

“LaGuardia obviously needs an upgrade, but that being said, the airport manages an extraordinary amount of traffic and the people who work there make it work under very difficult circumstances,” he said.

Vice President Joe Biden made the remarks while reportedly speaking about infrastructure in Philadelphia Thursday at an event to unveil Amtrak’s newest engine.

“If you blindfolded someone and took them at two o’clock in the morning into the airport in Hong Kong and said where do you think you are, they’d say, ‘this must be in America, this is a modern airport,'” Biden said. “If I took you in blindfolded and took you to LaGuardia Airport in New York, you must think, ‘I must be in some third world country.’ I’m not joking!”

Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his State of the State address this January, said the borough’s airports were in need of care, particularly LaGuardia, which he said was ranked as the worst airport in the country.

Cuomo proposed modernizing LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports by having the state assume management responsibility from The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

 

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Vice President Biden says LaGuardia Airport is like ‘third world country’


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Screenshot via YouTube/ PoliticsNoww·

Vice President Joe Biden, while reportedly speaking about infrastructure in Philadelphia Thursday, said LaGuardia Airport was similar to a “third world country.”

“If you blindfolded someone and took them at two o’clock in the morning into the airport in Hong Kong and said where do you think you are, they’d say, ‘this must be in America, this is a modern airport,'” Biden said. “If I took you in blindfolded and took you to LaGuardia Airport in New York, you must think, ‘I must be in some third world country.’ I’m not joking!”

Biden was at the Pennsylvania event to unveil Amtrak’s newest engine, according to AP.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his State of the State address this January, said the borough’s airports were in need of care, particularly LaGuardia, which he said was ranked as the worst airport in the country.

Cuomo proposed modernizing LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports by having the state assume management responsibility from The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

 

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Groundhogs see shadows, predict six more weeks of winter


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYC Mayor's Office's Flickr

Get ready to bundle up because winter is here to stay, according to the nation’s two most famous groundhogs.

Both Charles G. Hogg, also known as “Staten Island Chuck,” and Pennsylvania’s Punxsutawney Phil saw their shadows Sunday morning predicting six more weeks of cold weather.

Photo courtesy of Punxsutawney Phil’s Facebook Page

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Public Advocate Letitia James celebrated in Staten Island for the city’s Groundhog Day celebrations.

De Blasio did not get a warm response from the audience when he said Staten Island Chuck “likes the polar vortex” after the prediction was made.

He also did not receive a friendly response from Chuck, who de Blasio dropped as he was trying to hold him during the ceremony.

It wasn’t the first time the groundhog had an awkward encounter with a New York City mayor. In 2009, he bit then-mayor Michael Bloomberg’s finger.

 

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Flushing man killed outside rapper’s tour bus


| qceditorial@queenscourier.com

A Flushing man was shot and killed in Philadelphia after a gunman fired into a crowd of people surrounding a rapper’s tour bus, according to various media reports.

The victim, Jowann King, 26, was shot in the abdomen late Thursday, February 28 and later died at a local hospital, according to CBS Philadelphia. Another person was injured, and the initial shots prompted others in the crowd to return fire, said the Washington Post.

The rapper, French Montana, and members of his entourage are cooperating with the investigation, but police don’t know if they were targeted, Homicide Captain James Clark told the Washington Post.

“We believe someone saw something,” said Clark. “It could have been a lot more tragic.”

 

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Mets host wheelchair softball tournament


| smosco@queenscourier.com

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Top wheelchair athletes from around the world arrived at Citi Field for the 10th annual Mets Wheelchair Softball Tournament (MWST) with one goal in mind: to win the championship and show that disabilities should not resign one to a sedentary lifestyle.

The tournament was held on Lot A at the home of the New York Mets and featured teams of men, women and veterans who compete in sports wheelchairs. All teams were sponsored by a Major League Baseball team and the event was organized by the Wheelchair Sports Federation.

Wheelchair teams from Queens, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago and the Bronx participated and, in partnership with the New York City Department of Education, 100 students with special needs participated in a softball clinic led by the players.

Also, as a special treat for the ballplayers, Mets Hall of Famer Tom Seaver showed up to give the players some on-the-diamond advice. He even pitched to a few of the players, giving them the opportunity to hit off a baseball legend at the tournament on Friday, September 16.

Many of the men and women who played in the tournament are veterans wounded in battle, and many have competed and won medals at the Paralympics. There were also plenty of players who have competed in this tournament for many years, making them veterans both on and off the field.

On the field of play, the RIC (Rehabilitory Institute of Chicago) Cubs defeated the Mets wheelchair softball team, 10-4, to win the championship.