Community support pours out for family of crash victims

Bianca Fernandez and Linda Stibrany sell snow cones Bianca Fernandez and Linda Stibrany sell snow cones to raise money for the Hance Family Foundation outside Warren and Jackie Hance's Floral Park home. (Photo by Howard Schnapp/July 28, 2009) Photo Credit: Hance Family Foundation, Floral Park, accident

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One scoop at a time, preteens Linda Stibrany and Bianca Fernandez are raising funds in memory of three little girls they knew as neighbors and friends.

"Snow cones!" the 12-year-olds shouted to passersby Tuesday from a makeshift stand perched at a corner of Vanderbilt Avenue, the Floral Park street where the Hance sisters lived.

"It was all of our ideas to raise money," said Bianca, whose father said she baby-sat the youngest, Kate, 5, last week. "I hope it goes to something good for the kids. . . . Tomorrow, we might sell lemonade."

Just as Bianca and Linda mobilized to help the Hances, devastated by the deaths of five of their own in a horrific weekend crash on the Taconic State Parkway in Westchester, members of the village of 16,000 have come together to support this well-known family.

"We've had some tragic incidents," said Floral Park Mayor Kevin Greene, who on Monday was among 800 who attended a church service in memory of the deceased. "The people just pour out to support. It's amazing."

Kate, Alyson, 7, and Emma, 8, the only children of Floral Park residents Warren and Jackie Hance, were among eight people killed Sunday in the head-on collision.

Diane Schuler, Warren Hance's sister, was driving home from an upstate camping trip with her nieces and two children Sunday when she inexplicably entered the highway going in the wrong direction and drove head-on into a Chevrolet Trailblazer.

She and her daughter, Erin, 2, were also killed, as well as three passengers in the other vehicle. Only Schuler's son, Bryan, 5, survived.

Since then, the Hance-Schuler Family Foundation has been established in their memory. Donations can be made to the Hance Family Foundation, 49 Locust St. in Garden City.

Neighbors of Diane and Daniel Schuler in West Babylon said they have taken up a collection to assist Daniel and son Bryan. Besides raising funds, they have placed lit candles and stuffed bears and dogs on the Schulers' front lawn.

Daniel Schuler's employer, the Nassau Police Department, has offered him counseling and any other assistance he and his family need, said Det. Sgt. Anthony Repalone.

"He's part of the police family," said Repalone, adding that Schuler has worked as a public safety officer since 2003. "We'll be here for him now and we'll be here for him and his family afterward."

Greg Brion, 47, a Floral Park resident who walked past the snow-cone stand, said he was happy to see the girls doing their part.

"When it comes to something like this, everybody pulls together," he said.

He dropped some money into the basket.

- Click here to see the latest photos of mourners remembering the victims and the crash investigation

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