Lead photo courtesy of Rita Barravecchio, story photos courtesy of Councilman Vallone's office
From left: Councilman Paul Vallone, Madeline Sershen's aunt Rita Barravecchio and Senator John Liu

A Whitestone corner will forever bear the name of Madeline Sershen, the teenager who was fatally struck while crossing the street in 2018.

On Saturday, Nov. 23, the local community gathered at the intersection of 16th Avenue and Utopia Parkway to unveil Madeline Sershen Way. Those in attendance included Councilman Paul Vallone, Senator John Liu, Assemblyman Edward Braunstein and members from St. Francis Preparatory School, Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament School and P.S. 209.

In June 2018, senior driver Sheila Kahn Prager struck and killed 17-year-old Sershen as she was crossing the street. The teen’s untimely death sparked community advocacy for senior driver reforms, including retesting elderly drivers every two years.

Back in July of this year, Councilman Paul Vallone announced that the City Council approved several street co-namings in honor of Sershen, College Point resident Joe Femenia and Bayside resident CW5 Howard Haider.

“A beloved daughter, sister, aunt and an exceptional student and young woman, Madeline Sershen lived a brief but very bright life and was clearly loved by so many in the Northeast Queens community,” said Vallone. “Thank you to Olivia Sershen and Skyler Nenadich for sharing such moving words, and to Madeline’s aunt Rita Barravecchio for being a strong advocate for positive changes to New York State’s driving laws. I am humbled to be a part of honoring Madeline’s life in this lasting way.”

Sershen’s sister Olivia Sershen and cousin Skyler Nenadich delivered remarks at the ceremony, which was followed by a candlelight vigil and the street sign unveiling. Sershen was a native Queens resident and a senior at St. Francis Prep at the time of her death.

“Today, as we are gathered here, I remind you of that intelligent, loving, fierce being: the daughter, sister, aunt, granddaughter, niece, cousin, friend, student, classmate and role model she forever will be to each one of us,” said Olivia Sershen. “Today, we unveil this tribute to her, which won’t bring her back, but will honor her forever. For that, my family and I thank you, Councilman Vallone. But I ask you all to remember Maddie and keep her alive not just here in this moment today, and not just here on Madeline Sershen Way, but at every crosswalk you pass, every red light you stop at, with every pedestrian you see walking. I hope you are reminded of her in all the ordinary moments your life has to offer and in all your special ones.”

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