A blessing: Hances' neighbors wish them well

A blessing. That was how residents of Floral Park described news of a baby on the way for Jackie and Warren Hance Tuesday.

"Wonderful, wonderful news," said Mayor Tom Tweedy. "We would wish them all the joy that parenthood would bring as they extend their family."

Many people interviewed in the tight-knit community were reluctant to speak publicly, although most said they had heard the news.

"I don't know how you ever get over something like that -- losing three children. It's a tragedy most of us couldn't bear," said one resident who asked not to be named because he is close with the Hance family.

Jackie Hance's three daughters, Emma, 8, Alyson, 7, and Kate, 5, were in a minivan being driven by her sister-in-law Diane Schuler when it crashed into an SUV on the Taconic State Parkway in Westchester County on July 26, 2009. Schuler, 36, of West Babylon, her daughter, Erin, 2; and three Yonkers men in the SUV -- Guy Bastardi, 49; his father, Michael Bastardi, 81; and their friend Daniel Longo, 74, were also killed. Schuler's son, Bryan, 5, survived the crash.

At the village swimming pool, Tracy McGrath, a six-year resident of Floral Park, was taking her son, 10, and 5-year-old twin daughters for a dip. She said she had heard the news a couple of weeks ago.

"It's an absolute blessing. They deserve something good," she said.

For many residents, Floral Park has had more than its fair share of tragedy in recent years as car accidents primarily have claimed the lives of more than a dozen young people. Most recently, 6-year-old Andrew Burrous died when a car operated by a student driver went up on the sidewalk as he rode his bicycle along a residential street, accompanied by his mother. And Friday will mark one year since three camp counselors from Floral Park were killed in daytime crash on the Meadowbrook State Parkway.

Darleen Giudice, a longtime resident who with her husband, Ken, raised two boys, now 26 and 30, in the village, said she learned the happy news about Jackie Hance's pregnancy a month ago.

"When I found out, I cried tears of joy," she said, adding she doesn't know the Hances personally.

Tweedy said for many in the community there was still a lot of hurt surrounding the July 26, 2009, crash on the Taconic State Parkway, which killed eight.

"It's heart-wrenching and very raw -- still," he said.

"They say 'search for joy and find peace.' All of us in Floral Park want that for the Hances."

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