Tag Archives: Tragedy

How to talk to your child about tragedy


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

With the tragedy that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut plastered all over the news, chances are that children are going to catch a glimpse of a television broadcast or overhear a conversation about it. Helaine Shahar, a Bayside-based Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), gave The Courier some insight into how to speak to kids about the horrific event.

- Look out for behavioral changes.

Children struggling with emotional turmoil often have difficulty sleeping, isolate themselves for others and tend to refrain from engaging in conversation as much as they used to. Gauge their behavior on a scale of one to 10. If their level of activity is usually around a five or six and rockets to a nine or plummets to a two, something is up.

- Find out what they need first.

Some kids who have never had a serious discussion about emotions may feel awkward suddenly opening up about such a sensitive topic. It’s important to find out what the child needs from you before you hand out information that might be overwhelming.

- If kids don’t know about it, you don’t have to tell them.

There’s no use upsetting a child, especially if they are very young. If they don’t know what happened and you feel it’s best they remain in the dark, that’s OK.

- If they do know, it’s important to understand what they understand.

According to Shahar, if a child is aware that a tragedy occurred, one of the best things to do is ask them what they think happened. “If they say they’re afraid, that’s OK,” said Shahar. Make sure you normalize the day and let them know it’s not something that happens on a regular basis.

- Be clear about your own feelings.

Parents have to be clear about how they’re feeling themselves. Otherwise, their feelings might spill over to their children. “If children see their parents being upset, they have to be able to explain their own behavior,” said Shahar.

- Talk about it more than once.

It’s important to have several conversations. Continue to check in, even if it’s just to ask how they’re feeling or if they thought about the incident. Even if they didn’t think about it that particular day, keeping a dialogue about the incident lets kids know you are still open to discussing it if it does upset them.

Loved ones mourn as Prep teen laid to rest after tragic death


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Twitter

Loved ones who gathered at a wake on Labor Day to mourn the popular St. Francis Prep teen killed Friday in a gruesome party bus accident remembered him as a hilarious, fun-loving boy with a permanent smile pressed on his face.

“He was always cracking jokes,” said classmate Noah Buttner, 15. “He made [geometry class] a lot of fun. If he smiled, no matter how bad your day was going, you had to smile back.”

Daniel Fernandez, a 16-year-old incoming Prep junior, died in a bloody freak accident on the night of Friday, August 31, when he smashed his head on the underside of a New Jersey overpass after poking out of an emergency hatch on the top of a double-decker party bus, said Port Authority of New York and New Jersey spokesperson Steve Coleman.  

The bus had just traveled over the George Washington Bridge going westbound when the accident occurred shortly before 7 p.m., Coleman said. Fernandez struck the underside of the Fletcher Avenue overpass, just west of the bridge in Fort Lee, and was taken to Hackensack University Medical Center where he was pronounced dead with severe head trauma.

The Designer Limousine bus was loaded with 65 teens en route to a Sweet 16 in Garfield, New Jersey, Coleman said. There were only two adults on board — the bus driver and a male safety attended provided by the transportation company, who was not required to be present by law, according to Designer spokesperson Kyle Kotary.

The safety employee, Kotary said, had warned Fernandez and his pals to get down from their seats and to stop opening the hatch before heading down to ask the driver to turn up the air conditioning.

“In that split minute he had gone downstairs, somebody had opened the hatch and that’s when the accident occurred,” Kotary said. “That’s how it went down as the safety attendant described it.”

According to Kotary, the parents of the girl hosting the Sweet 16 party rented the bus for the Queens group. He said to his knowledge, the partying pals did not have alcohol on the bus, but could not confirm if the group had been drinking before boarding. Designer employees had confiscated one backpack, one “gift box” and one “iced tea colored bottle” from the teens before the bus departed, Kotary said.

“This was a sad and tragic accident caused by a poor decision to ignore repeated verbal warnings from the safety attendant and clearly marked written warnings on the vehicle,” Designer said in a statement.

Some of the ready-to-party teens, who began their trip at their Fresh Meadows high school, took to Twitter minutes after the horrific tragedy.

“Sitting here with your blood on my foot wishing this was all a bad dream,” said party-goer Vicky Budz, who told her 354 followers 12 hours earlier she was “raging tonight.”

“Feel like my insides are being ripped apart,” Budz tweeted. “I don’t know how I’m gonna be able to function after this. Scarred forever.”

Hundreds of Fernandez’s classmates, friends and family members paid their respects during a wake held at Kearns Funeral Home in Rego Park on Monday, September 3. A line to honor the Woodside teen stretched around the block within minutes of opening visitation hours.

“It’s been said, but he was always smiling. He always had something funny to say,” said close family friend Daniel Santamaria. “He was never sad.”

Santamaria said Fernandez played bagpipes and danced as a member of Casa Galicia — a social club in Astoria for those who come from Galicia, an autonomous community in northwestern Spain.

Prep transfer student Irvin Navarrete, 17, said Fernandez was the first person he ever met in high school and remembered his first high school pal as “a good person” and “kind.”

As of press time, there were no new discoveries in the investigation, but Coleman said the Bergen County Prosecutor’s office in New Jersey would make any determination regarding charges.

A candlelight vigil at St. Francis Prep was held for the beloved teen the night after the horrific accident. Weeping students holding candles and wearing blue walked in silence to the corner of Francis Lewis Boulevard and the Horace Harding Expressway, where they placed lit candles in front of a statue of the school’s patron saint.

St. Francis Prep principal Brother Leonard Conway said school officials were preparing grief counseling sessions for traumatized students aboard the bus. A memorial service would also be held at the school when the family is ready, Conway said.

“He wasn’t like anybody else,” Navarrete said.

Queens’ Morning Roundup – 11/11/2011: Jury Acquits Assemblyman of Conspiring to Take Bribes


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Jury Acquits Assemblyman of Conspiring to Take Bribes

William F. Boyland Jr., a Democratic assemblyman from one of Brooklyn’s most prominent political families, was acquitted on Thursday of conspiring to take $175,000 in bribes in return for using his influence on behalf of a health care organization that runs hospitals in Queens and Brooklyn. Read More: Wall Street Journal

 

Barbara Sheehan sentenced to five years in prison

After dodging a murder conviction for the death of her husband, Barbara Sheehan has been reportedly sentenced to five years behind bars on a second degree weapons charge related to the case. Sheehan, who faced up to 15 years in prison prior to her sentencing, was acquitted of murder after a jury determined she acted in self-defense when she shot her husband, Raymond, a retired NYPD sergeant, 11 times on the morning of February 18, 2008. Read More: Queens Courier

 

Queens Councilman Pleads Guilty To Charges Stemming From 1996 Larceny Case

Just two days after winning re-election, a City Councilman pleaded guilty Thursday to charges stemming from a 15-year-old larceny case. Queens Councilman Ruben Wills admitted to stealing items and damaging a Manhattan office building in 1996. The case will be closed without jail time or probation if he does three days of community service and pays $2,500 in restitution. Wills said the incident arose from a business dispute. An outstanding warrant was issued for his arrest after he missed court dates. Read More: NY1

 

10th Anniversary Memorial Ceremony for American Airlines Flight 587 on Saturday

Saturday, November 12 American Airlines Flight 587 10th anniversary memorial ceremony

Beach 116th Street, Belle Harbor – 9 a.m.

There will be a moment of silence at 9:16 a.m. at the time of the crash, followed by a reading of the victims’ names. The ceremony will be held at the memorial site, which was unveiled for the fifth anniversary. More Event Details: Queens Courier

 

Stalled Road Construction Keeps Forest Hills Residents From Getting Sleep

Forest Hills residents are complaining they cannot get any sleep because of the noise stemming from cars driving over a work site on 71st Avenue. Read More: NY1

 

City surrenders in long battle to turn historic St. Saviour’s site into Maspeth park

The city has given up its long fight to acquire the land where a historic Maspeth church once stood and turn it into park space. But the city and now looking into purchasing a City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) are smaller parcel of land from the nearby Martin Luther School as an alternative to the St. Saviour’s site. Read More: Daily News

 

Woodside monument honoring World War I heroes gets face-lift for Veterans Day

The majestic statue that stands at the foot of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in Woodside was created to honor local soldiers who paid the ultimate price in World War I. The female figure, sword in one hand and shield in the other, stands sentry over the tiny plaza in the neighborhood formerly known as Winfield. Read More: Daily News