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.
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)
“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.
An apparently famished man punched a Domino’s delivery man in the face on Dec. 6 in the Rockaways before taking off with all of his pizzas, police said.
The attack happened in front of Ocean Bay Apartments, at 54-49 Almeda Ave., where the 58-year-old man was delivering pizza.
The suspect, a dark-skinned Hispanic man, escaped into the building and hasn’t been found. The delivery man refused medical attention.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.
A 28-year-old man died after his car struck the support pillar for the elevated A subway line in Far Rockaway Saturday night, police said.
Cops found the driver, Jeffery McDonald of Far Rockaway, about 8 p.m. unconscious and unresponsive with trauma to his body at Rockaway Freeway and Beach 25th Street, according to police. He was taken to Saint John’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
McDonald had been driving westbound on Rockaway Freeway in a white Lexus when he collided into the support pillar of the elevated train, cops said.
One person was killed and three more were hurt Wednesday night after a car veered into oncoming traffic and crashed into another vehicle in the Rockaways, police said.
A Nissan 350Z was driving eastbound on Beach Channel Drive near Beach 127 Street about 11:10 p.m. when it veered sideways, crossed over the double yellow line and entered the oncoming lane, authorities said. A Kia Spectra traveling westbound on Beach Channel then struck the passenger side door of the Nissan.
The Nissan’s 19-year-old passenger, Geovanni Balverdy, of Far Rockaway was pronounced dead at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, police said. The car’s driver, a 19-year-old man, was taken to Jamaica Hospital, where he is listed in stable condition.
EMS took the Kia’s driver, a 29-year-old woman, and her passenger, a 21-year-old man, to Brookdale Hospital. Their condition was not immediately clear.
Rockaway residents gathered together on Monday to show their support for the men and women in blue.
“We want to show our support for the NYPD,” Councilman Eric Ulrich said. “We are there for them today, we were there for them before the tragedy happened and we will be there for them in the future.”
The rally took place at the 100th Precinct, located at 92-24 Rockaway Beach Blvd. Over 50 residents joined police officers and elected officials to show their solidarity and the respect they have for the NYPD, in particular the precinct that keeps watch over the peninsula.
“We are thankful for the brave men and women who protect and serve us, especially those down here in the 100th Precinct,” Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder said. “These officers wake up every day and all they look to do is help.”
The ceremony started off with a prayer for slain Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, who were targeted by a deranged gunman simply because they were police officers. They also said a prayer for four officers who were killed in the line of duty in the 100th Precinct in years past and lit a blue candle for each.
“These officers put on their badge each and every day to protect each and every one of us,” state Sen. Joe Addabbo said. “I’m glad we have a moment to gather and say thank you.”
Toward the end of the meeting, Joseph Concannon, a former NYPD captain, announced that he is holding a rally at Queens Borough Hall on Tuesday, Jan. 13, at noon. The event is titled “Support Your Local Police,” and is meant to raise awareness that there are many people who do support the NYPD.
“Come out and show your support for the men and women of the NYPD,” the rally flier reads. “Stand together with the law enforcement community and your Queens neighbors.”
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Rockaway.
The “Little North Pole” is coming back to Neponsit on Sunday at 4 p.m. Joseph Mure is hosting the event at his home for the 19thyear and has always done it for a good cause. Every penny that is donated at the event will go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).
“Juvenile diabetes is something that is very close to me as it runs through my family,” Mure said. “I love giving back to the foundation and getting the whole community together for a good cause.”
The event was originally supposed to be on Saturday, but due to the weather forecast, Mure switched it to Sunday. It will be held at 144-03 Neponsit Ave. in Rockaway.
The festivities will include singing, dancing and all types of entertainment. Special guests such as Tony Sirico and John Ventimiglia from “The Sopranos” will be there along with Joe Causi from WCBS radio, among others. And of course, Santa Claus will also stop by to see the children.
They will have a raffle for a brand-new 2015 Mercedes Benz GLA 250 for $20 a ticket. It is sure to be an event that everyone will enjoy, Mure said.
“This is an event for people of all ages,” he said. “I do it to put a smile on every child’s face that comes to the event and to help those special children who suffer with diabetes.”
Along with the entertainment, there will be food and drinks, which will be donated to the event, and every child will receive a toy.
Mure wants people from all over to come and kick off the holiday season for a great cause.
“We have a great show planned,” he noted. “It’s very important to me watching the children all around with a smile on their face.”
A Rockaway man is accused of assaulting his ex-girlfriend’s 13-month-old son while he was babysitting the child last week.
The child was abused so brutally that he was left with a fractured skull, District Attorney Richard Brown said.
The mother of the child brought her son to the Arverne home of Bishme Allah around 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 10, so he could watch him while she ran errands for about 30 minutes. As she left the child was awake and crying.
When she returned, Allah, 30, who had been left alone with the child, told her that her son was asleep, Brown said. The two then smoked marijuana and ate a sandwich.
At 9 p.m., when the woman got into bed with her son, she did not notice anything wrong with him. But when Allah joined her in bed and she moved her child, she then saw that he had marks on his face and severe swelling to his head, according to Brown. She then demanded that Allah take them to the hospital.
The child was admitted to Cohen Children’s Medical Center, where an examination showed that the boy had a severe skull fracture, hemorrhages, contusions, and bruising on the head and lower abdomen, prosecutors said. Medical personnel determined that the injuries were inconsistent with an accident and consistent with a forceful impact.
Allah was arraigned Wednesday night in Queens Criminal Court on charges of assault, attempted assault, and endangering the welfare of a child. If convicted he faces up to 15 years in prison.
It’s the only hospital on the Rockaway peninsula, and now it has the funds needed to improve its facility.
St. John’s Episcopal Hospital services over 130,000 residents in Rockaway in addition to those in the neighboring parts of Nassau County. After being hit by Hurricane Sandy, it has been hard for the hospital to get back to its full health.
As he saw that the hospital was struggling, Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder worked to provide the hospital with a $500,000 capital grant to help with their renovations, upgrades and expansion of its surgical facility.
“St. John’s Hospital is currently the only healthcare facility open to serve the entire Rockaway peninsula, and it is still struggling financially to cover the costs of expenses incurred two years ago during Sandy,” said Goldfeder. “This new funding will go a long way to ensure that St. John’s can modernize, grow and continue to provide quality and accessible healthcare on the Rockaway peninsula.”
This isn’t the first time he has helped secure funds for the hospital. When Hurricane Sandy hit, the hospital had to spend $4.3 million to run it and make repairs.
In June 2012, Goldfeder assisted in granting St. John’s Episcopal Hospital nearly $5.4 million under the Health Care Efficiency and Affordability Law of New York State (HEAL NY) to expand services after the closure of Peninsula Hospital.
Richard Brown, the CEO of St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, expressed his gratitude to Goldfeder for helping to keep the facility afloat.
“This allocation will enable us to purchase a variety of equipment necessary for state-of-the-art, minimally invasive 3D surgery, as well as make great strides in providing leading edge education within St. John’s surgical residency program,” said Brown. “Most importantly, minimally invasive surgery techniques allow patients to heal faster and go home sooner. St. John’s will now have the highest quality instruments available, allowing us to grow in our mission to provide the best patient care possible.”
A city bus driver from Richmond Hill has been arrested after he allegedly stabbed his romantic rival in Arverne Tuesday afternoon, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.
Ephraim Henry, 30, had completed his route and was driving the empty bus to the depot when he spotted the victim, Oscar Williams.
Williams, 48, was driving a Honda near Beach 67th St. and Beach Channel Drive, when Henry allegedly stopped the bus and began to argue with Williams, who is reportedly involved romantically with Henry’s wife. The two began to fight and Henry stabbed Williams in the arm, Brown said.
Williams survived the incident but had to undergo surgery at a nearby hospital.
Henry was arraigned on Wednesday on charges of assault and criminal possession of a weapon. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison.
The stabbing was within blocks of where several stray bullets hit an MTA bus on Monday night. No one aboard the bus was injured, but a 21-year-old man was hit in the leg. He was taken to the hospital, where he was listed in stable condition.
It’s been two years since Superstorm Sandy ravaged southern Queens and though the recovery process is slow, it is moving in the right direction, city officials said at a town hall meeting in Rockaway.
“We are approaching the two-year anniversary of Sandy and still people are struggling,” said Councilman Eric Ulrich. “We wanted to give the community a chance to hear about the recovery process and ask their questions directly to the city agencies.”
The meeting, which was hosted by Ulrich and Councilman Donavan Richards at Beach Channel High School in Rockaway on Oct. 27, provided updates on the state of the Rockaway boardwalk, ferry service, street and light repairs, Build It Back numbers, FEMA insurance and other programs presented by representatives of the DOT, EDC, DEP, Parks Department, Build It Back and the Mayor’s office.
“Sandy highlighted many of the vulnerabilities that we had in the city,” said Dan Zarrilli, director of Recovery and Resiliency in the Mayor’s Office.
He added that his agency is working on strengthening coastal defenses through sand replenishment and bulkhead expansion while also lobbying the federal government to keep FEMA insurance at an affordable price for residents.
Amy Peterson, director of Build It Back, said that even though the agency is not where it needs to be, much progress has been made. Since January, there have been 750 construction starts and 1,000 checks issued throughout the city.
When it came to the DEP, Emily Lloyd, director of the agency, said they inspected 51 miles of storm sewers on the Rockaway peninsula running from Arverne to Neponsit and added that there was minimal damage to the water mains in the area.
She also said that the agency is working on minimizing the crude smell of the Rockaway Wastewater Treatment Plant, located on Beach 107th Street and Beach Channel Drive, via odor control and an upgraded filtration system but said there will never be absolutely no smell.
Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver gave a much-anticipated update on the Rockaway boardwalk. He said that the construction of the boardwalk, which was started in April, will be finished by Memorial Day of 2017. He added that when finished this boardwalk will “rival all others in the world.”
The DOT, represented by Queens Borough Commissioner Dalila Hall, has allotted $2 million for resurfacing work throughout southern Queens. Hall also said the agency is diligently repairing street lights and traffic signals, which were damaged from Sandy, and is working on getting Select Bus Service to the Rockaways as the need for transportation became so apparent in the wake of the storm.
Finally, Kyle Kimball, president of NYCEDC, gave news that met with much uproar from residents. The Rockaway ferry service, which was put in as a temporary transportation method after Superstorm Sandy, will be ending this month. He mentioned that the $5 million a year it would take to run the service was not in the city’s budget.
Councilman Richards said that even though the city still has a long way to go in the recovery process is still a long way to go, two years after the storm hit, progress has been made.
“Our communities still need repairs,” Richards noted. “But the stronger we remain together, the more likely the entire community will be rebuilt.”
The 13-acre complex, consisting of 1,093 units throughout 11 buildings, features affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families and has a daycare center, a community center, a supermarket, more than 10,000 square feet of on-site retail space, laundry facilities, 24-hour security, management office and parking.
In October 2012, days before L+M was about to buy what was then known as the Ocean Village housing complex, which had many buildings in need of repairs, Sandy wrecked the community. L+M continued with the purchase in November and committed to rebuilding the housing development. The buildings underwent a $60 million interior and exterior rehabilitation, funded by federal, city and private partnerships, and new storm-proofing and resiliency measures were installed.
“The devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy just two years ago left many of my neighbors in the Rockaways without adequate shelter. I applaud both the public and private partnerships that came together to rebuild and restore Arverne View,” said state Sen. James Sanders Jr.
The ribbon cutting was only ceremonial as renovations were completed in March.
The apartments range in size from studios to five bedrooms in the buildings, which vary in height from four stories to a 19-story tower.
Originally built in 1974 for low-income families, Arverne View remained affordable housing by accepting individuals and families earning no more than 80 percent of the area median income of $66,400 annually for a family of four. And 25 percent of units in the buildings were reserved for those earning no more than 60 percent of the area median income.
“Throughout the rehabilitation of Arverne View, our goal was to provide quality homes in a great setting and at the same time preserve affordable housing for the many New Yorkers that need it,” said Ron Moelis, CEO of L+M. “Standing here on the second anniversary of Hurricane Sandy among these beautifully renovated buildings truly makes you appreciate just how much we’ve accomplished.”
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