The grieving parents of a Lindenhurst teen killed when her car was rear-ended mourned the loss Monday of a young woman with a generous heart and a promising future.
Brittney Walsh, 18, who graduated from high school Friday, was driving home from work Sunday night when her car was struck from behind by another driver on Montauk Highway in Lindenhurst and flipped over, Suffolk police said.
Outside their home Monday morning, the Walsh family talked about Brittney, trying to make sense of her death just 12 hours earlier.
They recalled how, on Thursday, she had gone to a neighboring school's prom with a teen she did not know. It was a setup, initiated by her father, because the boy didn't have a date.
"That's the kind of girl she was," aunt Carol Grubel said. "She was an all-around great kid. She was the daughter any parent would dream of having."
When Brittney didn't return home after her shift at Kmart ended Sunday night, her parents said they started to worry. She wasn't answering her texts, alarming for their usually accessible daughter. Her mother, Cheryl Walsh, started to drive to the store but then stopped to talk to a police officer, who broke the news to the family.
Brittney was pronounced dead at the accident scene. The driver of the other car, Michael Grasing, 31, of 36 Tappan Ave., Babylon, was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip with minor injuries, police said. He was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, police said.
Grasing was driving his 2004 Nissan west on Montauk about 10:25 p.m. when he struck Walsh's car, which also was westbound, police said. Her car was moving when it was rear-ended, Suffolk Det. Lt. Robert Edwards said.
Walsh's car flipped several times before hitting a utility pole, he said.
Authorities are waiting for test results showing Grasing's blood alcohol level. Police said Grasing will face arraignment in First District Court in Central Islip but no date has been set.
Accident reconstructionists will determine whether speed was a factor and if Walsh was wearing a seat belt.
Brittney graduated from Walter G. O'Connell Copiague High School with an advanced Regents diploma. "Brittney excelled at her academics and was a very active student," a district statement said.
Her family said she was a jumper for the Copiague track and field team, and was clutch on the soccer field where she played almost every position.
She was also remembered for her efforts to keep alive the memory of her best friend and classmate, Christopher Urban, who died in October 2010 from a congenital brain condition, Walsh's mother said.
During Friday's graduation ceremony, Brittney had sent text messages to Christopher's mother, Cynthia. "Don't forget Chris is walking with me," Brittney wrote. "Know that he's right in front of me."
Walsh's parents said they have only one solace. "She didn't suffer. That's the only way I can look at it," her mother said.
With Joseph Mallia
and John Valenti