By Bill Parry
The Queens nurse who was killed Sunday morning in the Metro-North Railroad train derailment in the Bronx will be laid to rest in Woodside Saturday.
The funeral mass for Kisook Ahn will be held at her place of worship, St. Sebastian’s Church, at 58-02 Roosevelt Ave., at 10:30 a.m.
Ahn was commuting home from her job at Sunshine Children’s Home and Rehab Center in upstate Ossining, where she worked the night shift caring for severely ill children when the seven-car Metro-North train jumped the tracks early Sunday morning, killing four passengers and injuring 63.
“I hired her and can tell you she was an amazing nurse,” said Linda Mosiello, the center’s administrator. “She was a wonderful and warm, sweet person with a strong work ethic.”
Sheldon Miekle, president of Perfect Choice Staffing, a Long Island-based company that recruited and sponsored South Korean-born Ahn, said, “Her work ethic was exceptional. She was a very special person.”
After completing an accelerated one-year bachelor’s program at Lehman College, Ahn could have worked as a nurse for a year before returning to South Korea.
“Instead, she decided to stay and extend her student visa for two years while she got her master’s degree, worked the overnight upstate — all of this while learning English. Like I said, she was special,” said Miekle.
She recently filed to become a permanent U.S. citizen.
“The sad irony is that her approval notice arrived at my desk Monday morning,” Miekle said.
Ahn’s brother and brother-in-law arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport on a flight from Seoul early Wednesday morning. Miekle had offered to pay their travel expenses, but they politely refused.
“The MTA stepped up and funded it. If they don’t want it, we’ll put it in a special fund at Lehman College, a scholarship fund for other nursing students,” Miekle said.
Ahn would work the 6 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. shift in the nursery at the Sunshine Children’s Home and Rehab Center before the hour and a half trip back to Woodside.
“She wanted to be a part of the huge Korean culture in Woodside, Flushing and Astoria,” said Miekle, “She also wanted to be close to St. Sebastian’s.”
The 5:54 a.m. train from Poughkeepsie on which she was riding was speeding at 82 mph when it left the rails on a sharp curve near the Spuyten Duyvil station in the Bronx.
“I was given a special briefing,” said U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). “When I heard how fast that train was going, I gasped. I can just imagine the horror for those inside. It’s just frightening to imagine how fast that train was going.”
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the derailment and has interviewed the engineer as well as the other crew members. The MTA, which operates Metro-North, has been criticized for not implementing new technology sooner to prevent train crashes, but the agency has said it is moving as quickly as it can to make the $900 million upgrade. by 2015.
City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), who represents Woodside, said, “It’s a horrific tragedy for all, but losing a Woodsider, a hardworking woman doing good … while fulfilling her life’s dream here in Queens. We mourn for her and await the investigation.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.