By Julia Moro
An emotional funeral was held in Bayside for a 17-year-old girl who was killed when an 88-year-old woman allegedly ran a red light and struck her as she was crossing the street.
Our Lady of The Blessed Sacrament held a service for Madeline Sershen last Friday, just four days after her death.
The church was filled with family, friends and teachers who came to show their love and share in their grief.
Rev. Robert J. Whelan rccalled a story he remembered from when Madeline attended Our Lady of The Blessed Sacrament School at 34-24 203rd St.
“When Maddy was in the sixth grade, one day a little bird flew into the window. There was a lot of laughing and a lot of excitement. But the little bird just sat there and took it all in,” Whelan said. “And then, soon, quickly as he had come, he disappeared and flew out the window.”
He added, “Maddy wrote a few years later in her yearbook that she still remembered that. It brought a smile to her face. I think Maddy is like that little bird for us now. The youngest of the six Sershens, she came into your lives and she brought you joy and happiness, you took the light in her and now she is gone too quickly from our midst. We should not focus on her absence, instead focus on her presence.”
Among the family to speak was Sershen’s sister Catherine, brother Greg and cousin Skylar Nenagich.
Many teachers had written letters sharing memorable stories about Maddie. Two stood out and were read at the mass by Whelan.
One teacher wrote, “She received a 100 percent on her last essay. It was her only 100 of the year, most of her test grades were in the mid-90s. She approached me before the English Regents and told me how happy she was about that 100. I told her how proud I was of her. I will miss her.”
Another wrote, “She was smart, motivated, and extremely responsible. One of the kids who would schedule a makeup even before she returned to school. She never spoke badly about anyone and was always respectful of myself and her fellow classmates. She was very smart and one of the brightest kids in my class. She was the type of girl who I thought would go far. It is such a loss to the community.”
The service brought nearly everyone who attended to tears with the moving personal stories from her teachers.
Madeline’s father, Eric Sershen, said he will get through this tragedy with his family by his side.
“It’s all about family and staying together,” he said. “We’re a close family — strength amongst each other from each other.”
Madeline was crossing the street on June 25, with no distractions — she was not listening to music and she was not texting, according to her father — when an elderly driver ran a red light and hit her, according to police. With severe head trauma, Madeline was taken to New York Presbyterian Hospital in Flushing where she was later pronounced dead, according to authorities.
Police charged the driver, Sheila Khan-Prager, with failure to yield to a pedestrian, failure to exercise due care and a traffic device violation after fatally striking Sershen, but the Queens district attorney’s office said it was not pursuing criminal charges against Khan-Prager.
Reach reporter Julia Moro by e-mail at jmoro