The 16-year-old boy killed on the eve of spring break as he crossed the dangerous Hempstead Turnpike was remembered at a gathering Thursday night by hundreds of classmates as a well-liked friend.
"He was always at our house," said Megan Slattery, 16, whose brother was best friends with Anthony D'Alessandro, identified by his school as the latest victim of the region's most deadly road for pedestrians. "He was like an annoying little brother," she added affectionately.
D'Alessandro was a sophomore at Division High in Levittown. He was struck by a minivan about 9:15 p.m. Wednesday while jaywalking across Hempstead Turnpike not far from his school, Nassau police said.
A steady stream of teens during the day and into the night swelled to more than 300 at a candlelight vigil near where D'Alessandro was struck. Many placed flowers, candles and other displays at a utility pole.
One of three westbound travel lanes was closed because the crowd spilled over the sidewalk.
They were protected by barricades and police cars.
Friends lit candles they placed on the sidewalk to spell D'Alessandro's name.
The boy's father, Anthony, attended the vigil. He worked his way through the crowd, hugging, sharing tears and speaking with his son's friends.
Before leaving, he said to the crowd, "Thank you. I love you."
One sign placed nearby read "RIP Anthony. We didn't lose a person, we gained an angel." Another said, "Only the good die young."
In a statement, the Levittown school district said: "Staff and faculty enjoyed having him as a student due to his polite nature and outgoing character."
Once school reopens after spring break, grief counselors will be at the high school and Wisdom Lane Middle School, which D'Alessandro's brother Nicholas attends.
The district asked parents to talk with their children about the hazards of the roadway.
The high school is on the north side of Hempstead Turnpike and the Levittown library on the south, and students often walk between the two.
The driver in Wednesday's crash, identified only as a 61-year-old woman, was not expected to be charged, police said.
Laura Slattery of Levittown said D'Alessandro and her son grew up together. "He and my son have been friends since kindergarten," she said.
She said another teen, Lauren Davis, 18, was killed not far away.
Davis was struck Dec. 30, 2008, after meeting with friends, and died New Year's Day 2009.
"I don't know why they can't do something about this," Slattery said. "Maybe a pedestrian walkway."
Eddie Sippel, 15, who said he was D'Alessandro's best friend, put flowers and a handmade wood cross on the sidewalk in the afternoon. He remembered Anthony as a fan of lacrosse and bike riding. "He was a special guy who was always making everybody laugh," Sippel said.
"Hey man, I'm going to miss you," said a note Sippel left. "You were like a bro to me. I'll never forget you man."
"He changed everybody's life. If you were feeling bad, he'd say something that was funny. He made everybody feel good," Sippel said.
At D'Alessandro's home, mourners cried inside and a man declined to comment.
Visitation is Saturday from 2 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at Charles J. O'Shea Funeral Home in East Meadow.
A study by the Tri-State Transportation Campaign found that more pedestrians were killed by motorists on Hempstead Turnpike in Nassau than on any other road in the metropolitan area between 2008 and 2010.
A yearlong Newsday investigation reported in February that the 16-mile stretch of Hempstead Turnpike through Nassau is riskier for pedestrians than four other major east-west roads in the county. That stretch of the road had 8.21 annual fatalities -- and scores more serious pedestrian accidents -- per million vehicle miles traveled. Thirty-two people were killed -- and, at least 427 were injured -- in 457 pedestrian accidents from 2005 to 2010, the investigation found.The turnpike's danger was on the mind of D'Alessandro's friend Taylor Moran, also 16, who said she was among the last to see him alive. She said she stayed behind just before the crash, adding that her mother doesn't let her cross the turnpike because it's so unsafe.
With Matthew Chayes and John Valenti