Woman killed in Hudson Avenue crash was Peekskill High School valedictorian’s grandmother

    Zoila Zhingri came from Ecuador to hear Brittney Pauta's speech at graduation

    Zoila Zhingri (Photo courtesy of Myriam Pauta)
    Zoila Zhingri (Photo courtesy of Myriam Pauta)

    Zoila Zhingri, the woman killed in the May 27 crash on Hudson Avenue, had recently arrived from Ecuador with her husband, Jose Lalvay, when she was killed. One of the reasons the couple was here was to attend Peekskill High School’s commencement ceremonies on June 25, where their granddaughter—17-year-old Brittney Pauta—would be giving a speech as this year’s valedictorian.

    “I was with my mom when we heard and we rushed to the incident and found out my grandma died,” Pauta told The Peekskill Post a week ago. “It was a terrible tragedy. Initially, we were in shock. Since then, there has been an emptiness.”

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    On June 26, when she addresses the Peekskill High School Class of 2017, Pauta knows someone special will be watching from above.

    “I am so sad that my grandma won’t be there in the crowd but my grandfather will be there and is that is better than having neither of them there,” she said. “I am pretty sure she will be watching up in Heaven.”

    Pauta, who added that the school community has been very supportive, will enroll at NYU in the fall.

    Her sister, Myriam, 24, said their grandparents—legal residents of the United States who often split their time between Ecuador and Peekskill—arrived in Peekskill in late April.

    Peekskill police continue to work with the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office to determine the speed of the vehicle that hit a parked car, causing that parked car to fly into Zhingri and her family members as they walked east up the Hudson Avenue sidewalk. Three of Zhingri’s family members—her 71-year-old husband, her daughter and 2-year-old grandson—were hospitalized. The grandson remains hospitalized with serious injuries.

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