Tag Archives: vigil

$24K raised at Jackson Heights candlelight vigil for Nepal earthquake victims


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Pralay Rajbhandari

Jackson Heights and the surrounding communities have come together to show the victims of this weekend’s magnitude-7.8 earthquake in Nepal that they are not alone.

Members of the Queens Nepalese community and the New York Nepalese Football Club have begun a fundraising campaign to collect money that will buy necessary items for families left devastated after the earthquake hit the country on Saturday, claiming more than 3,200 lives.

“Whenever these things happen, we get together,” said Pralay Rajbhandari, a player and member of the New York Nepalese Football Club. “We are all united for this great cause.”

Rajbhandari, who has been living in Jackson Heights for eight years, has his whole family in Nepal and spent hours trying to contact them after the earthquake hit. He was finally able to contact his father and found out that his home in Nepal had partially collapsed and his family is currently staying at a shelter.

“It was heartbreaking,” Rajbhandari said. “After I heard the news I was trying to find [my family] but finally after a few hours I talked to my father. There is panic everywhere and the fear is still there. The whole country is in pain right now.”

Photo by Cristina Furlong

Photo by Cristina Furlong

On Sunday, close to a thousand people gathered in Jackson Heights to hold a candlelight vigil and pray for loved ones in Nepal. By the end of the day, $24,000 was collected.

“I was surprised. So many people came, so much support,” Rajbhandari said. “It was not only Nepalese people. All people donated generously and the figure is still going up.”

Councilman Daniel Dromm also attended the Sunday vigil to show his support.

“My heart goes out to the thousands of families who have lost someone in the catastrophic earthquake that hit Nepal on Saturday,” Dromm said. “On Sunday, I joined many of my constituents in Diversity Plaza as a show of support for the earthquake victims. Many established organizations such as Adhikaar, the Red Cross and UNICEF need our support in the form of cash contributions. This is the best way to help right now.”

The organizers of Sunday’s vigil are currently still set up at Diversity Plaza, located at 73rd Street and 37th Road, and are accepting monetary donations as well as clothes or other items.

The president of the New York Nepalese Football Club, Wangla Lama, traveled to Nepal after the quake and is visiting shelters and writing down what people need.

Rajbhandari said that people in Nepal are in dire need of food, water, tents and blankets, and that any kind of donation would help. He also encourages people to donate to the Red Cross.

Photo by Cristina Furlong

Photo by Cristina Furlong

He added that some members of the club have also applied to head to Nepal to volunteer and are just waiting to get the permission to travel.

Assemblyman Francisco Moya, who represents parts of Jackson Heights, is also opening his office for any members of Queens’ Nepalese and South Asian communities who are in need of assistance.

“To New York’s Nepalese community, I send this message—the family of New York is behind you and we will support you in your time of need,” Moya said. “All of New York mourns with you in this moment of sadness.”

A candlelight vigil is expected to be held this Friday at 8 p.m. in Times Square. Anyone who is looking to donate or who has any questions on how they can help can contact Rajbhandari at 347-891-9841.

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Pols call for law change after driver with suspended license fatally strikes Woodside boy


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photos by Angy Altamirano

BY CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND ANGY ALTAMIRANO

Local elected officials are calling for a change in the law to prevent another child, like 8-year-old Noshat Nahian, from losing their life.

Noshat was crossing the street with his 11-year-old sister on the way to school at P.S. 152 in Woodside around 8 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 20 when a tractor trailer traveling southbound on 61st Street made a left turn onto Northern Boulevard, striking him with its rear tires, police said. He was taken to Elmhurst Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The driver, Mauricio Osorio-Palominos, 51, of Newark, N.J., who remained on the scene of the accident, has been charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of motor vehicle and operating vehicle in violation of safety rules, police said.

Osorio-Palominos was driving with a suspended license with multiple violations on his record during the accident, according to State Senator Michael Gianaris.

In response, Gianaris gathered with local officials, residents and advocacy groups at the site of the accident Monday to introduce legislation that would make it a felony if drivers with suspended licenses either seriously injure or kill someone with their vehicle. Under current law, a driver like Osorio-Palominos could be charged with a misdemeanor.

“The law needs to get tougher,” said Gianaris. “Those who have suspended licenses are twice as likely to kill somebody or injure somebody, or twice as likely to have major accidents, the law has to catch up with the data, we just need to get these people off the streets.”

Gianaris has also proposed the immediate impoundment of a vehicle’s license plate if it were being operated by someone with a suspended license.

The new bill will be co-sponsored by Senators Toby Ann Stavisky and Jose Peralta and also supported by Assemblymember Michael Den Dekker, Congressmember Joseph Crowley and Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer.

“I have an 8-year-old son and it could have been my child, it could have been my son that was hit that Friday morning,” said Peralta. “And we need to send a loud message not only to the city but to anyone who does this, who rides without a license, that this is not going to be acceptable.”

Advocate groups like Transportation Alternatives, Make Queens Safer and Woodside on the Move, are also looking to implement other safety measures like crossing guards, stalled green lights and much more.

“None of this should of happen, all of this could have been prevented,” said Van Bramer. “This school has been asking for a crossing guard at this location for months. [It’s] absolutely disgraceful that the administration did not provide the crossing guard when it was requested, when it was clearly needed. Anybody who has been on this street for more than five minutes knows that this requires a crossing guard.”

Advocacy group Make Queens Safer organized a traffic safety memorial and vigil at 61st Street and Northern Boulevard Sunday where Noshat’s family and hundreds of residents gathered to remember the 8-year-old and other victims of traffic fatalities.

 

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Family, friends remember Flushing 20-year-old killed in motorcycle crash


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Facebook

Hundreds gathered in spite of wind and rain to honor a 20-year-old Flushing man killed in a motorcycle crash last week.

“This was one of my best friends,” said Niaz Aziz. “He was like a brother to me.”

Kiyanoush Asif died June 12 when he crashed his 2005 Kawasaki motorcycle into an oncoming 2011 Honda Accord. The car was making a left turn at the intersection of Northern Boulevard and Murray Street, police said.

Asif accelerated and struck its rear passenger side door at around 5:30 p.m., cops said. He was pronounced dead at Flushing Hospital Medical Center. The other driver remained at the scene and no criminality is suspected, police said.

The death ­— caused by blunt trauma to the head, torso and extremities — was ruled an accident, according to the medical examiner’s office.

Nearly 200 friends remembered Asif at a June 13 vigil outside Francis Lewis High School, where he graduated in 2011.

Blustering winds and rain in 60 degree weather did not stop them from meeting that night to pay their respects.

“He was a really smart kid, loved by everybody,” said Danny Salik, 20. “He was always smiling, always happy. There was nothing bad about this guy.”

Asif was a rising junior studying biology at Hunter College. He had volunteered at Flushing Hospital, friends and family said, and was an Army Junior ROTC cadet at Francis Lewis. He also had a passion for rapping.

“He was not my grandchild. He was my heart,” said Asif’s grandmother, Talat Noori. “God gave us a rose, but he was just for us to have temporarily. We still say thank you for every second, every minute of it.”

Monika Friend said many former classmates came to share tales of her cousin, who kept his personal life private.

One told the family Asif had once spent three periods in high school consoling an upset stranger.

“We felt proud of him,” said Friend, 31. “That was our boy.”

Asif bought his motorcycle about two weeks ago, though his parents begged him not to, his family and friends said.

“He was strong and brave and humble,” said Aziz, 20. “He was one of the realest people I knew.”

Aziz, a close friend for more than 12 years, said he got a cryptic call from the hospital through Asif’s cell phone on the day of the crash.

“They said they couldn’t tell me what was wrong but needed me to go there,” he recalled. “They said he wasn’t feeling well.”

He soon found out the news through Asif’s family.

“I lost a part of me,” he said, adding that he returns to the site of the crash often.

“These are the hardest days of my life,” Aziz continued. “We’re still over here hurting. I can’t even think straight. I can’t believe it.”

 

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Vigil for dead teens meant to raise awareness


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

Their message was responsibility and awareness.

Less than two weeks after four area teens perished in a tragic car crash on the Southern State Parkway, hundreds turned out to a candle light vigil at Phil Rizzuto Park in Richmond Hill.

Family members, friends and neighborhood residents gathered to remember Christopher Khan, Neal Rajapa, Darian Ramnarine and Peter Kanhai. Many wore shirts or sweatshirts with their pictures in order to keep their memory alive. The driver, Joseph Beer, survived the crash.

Relatives of each of the young men lit a single candle sitting on a chair representing empty places in four homes because of the accident. Following the lighting, religious leaders prayed for the community and the victims.

THE COURIER/Photo by Terence M. Cullen

The idea of the night was to ensure there was better communication between parents and children, said Dr. Dhanpaul Narine, one of the vigil’s five organizers. If there was a better dialogue in the community, Narine said, tragedies like this could be prevented. He said this expanded beyond the home, into schools and at places of worship.

“We should communicate; communication is an important aspect of any relationship,” he said. “It takes a whole village; the whole village is right here. The entire village is not operating as it should be, and that is what we hope to achieve here this evening.”

If this idea of responsibility when driving, and keeping in touch with parents, could reach one teen, then it could spread from there, Narine and others hope.

The idea of responsibility resonated with some of the parents who joined the crowds in the park.

John Maharana’s son had been friends with the deceased and he was there to show support for the community and his son. His son, Maharana said, was still trying to grasp the untimely deaths.

What he hoped the youth of the community got from the night was a new perspective on responsibility and care.

“As a parent, I would imagine what those parents are going through right now, having to lose their young kids,” he said. “I would hate to be in their [shoes] right now. But I just hope these other kids look at this and learn. Let them take this as a good lesson now: these kids have died in vain for them to use as a good example to make themselves better, be more responsible. Mommy and dad are not going to be with you 24/7 told hold your hand to guide you.”

Residents hold 9/11 vigil at Juniper Valley Park


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

With the Twin Tower tribute lights in the background, hundreds of Queens residents gathered holding candles to honor those who died in the attacks on September 11.

The candlelight vigil at Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village featured poems, prayer and music on the 11th anniversary of the attacks.

Click here to see all the pictures from the night.

Vigil held for Barbara Sheehan


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Vigil

Howard Beach residents have sent a clear message to Barbara Sheehan – “you are not alone.”

Over 100 people attended a vigil held at Ave Maria Catholic Academy, located at 158-20 101st Street, on Sunday, October 16 to express support for their neighbor. Barbara is currently in prison awaiting sentencing after being convicted of criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree for the shooting death of her husband, retired NYPD sergeant Raymond Sheehan, on the morning of February 18, 2008.

The overwhelming opinion among the crowd was that Barbara and her family had suffered enough at the hands of Raymond and that they deserve to be reunited.

“I don’t think she should be in jail; not at all,” said Christine Otoole, a friend of Barbara’s. “The poor woman was abused for 18 years. It’s very easy for someone to say that she should’ve reported it, but not easy to do when you fear for your life. I’ve never been abused but I can just imagine what the poor woman went through. I’m married to a police officer and he never has his gun out. So why was [Raymond’s] gun out? That guy was obviously a psychopath.”

Deacon Alex Breviario of Our Lady of Grace spoke at the vigil, preaching faith and cooperation.

“Our rule is not to judge, but to support others in their time of need. That’s why we are here tonight for Barbara and her family,” said Breviario.

Barbara, who faced 25 years to life in prison before being found not guilty of murder, could serve between two-and-a-quarter to 15 years behind bars depending on sentencing. Although the usual minimum sentence for criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree is three-and-a-half years, Barbara faces a reduced minimum sentence of two-and-a-quarter years due to the domestic abuse she suffered.

The 50-year-old mother of two surrendered to authorities on October 12, but her attorney, Niall MacGiollabhui, says an appeal of the conviction is imminent.

MacGiollabhui has submitted an application to the appellate division to allow Barbara to remain on bail pending her sentencing and the results of the appeal. As of press time, Justice Barry Kron had yet to make a decision regarding bail.

Members of the Sheehan family also attended the vigil and expressed gratitude for the encouragement provided to Barbara.

“I just want to thank everybody for their support during the last three-and-a-half years for what we’ve been going through, since everybody was there for us,” said Michael Henry, Barbara’s father. “We appreciate it and we love every single one of you.”

— Additional reporting by Nargas Karimi