Family, friends mourn Brittney Walsh
Three days after 18-year-old Brittney Walsh of Lindenhurst was killed in a car crash on the Montauk Highway, those close to her said they were still struggling to move past the harsh, abrupt end to the teen's life.
Dozens of people turned out for a wake for Walsh in Babylon Wednesday afternoon, including former classmates and teachers, soccer opponents and at least a half-dozen of her father's colleagues.
Inside the Boyd-Spencer Funeral Home in Babylon, sadness mixed with anger at the news that Michael Grasing, who police said crashed his car into Walsh's vehicle, was alleged to have been driving with a blood-alcohol level nearly four times the legal limit.
"It's senseless. . . . All these kids inside are just heartbroken," said Gusmano, adding that the school community is devastated by Walsh's death.
For the visitors, emotions were raw. Several people said they were so overwhelmed that they had to leave the funeral home.
"I can't do it," said Diandra Falco, 17, who knew Walsh from church, and watched her play soccer. "Seeing her picture on the casket . . . I didn't know what to do."
Falco and her friends had avoided talking about Walsh's death since the accident, she said.-- "Nobody wants to."
Visitors to the wake, though, were quick to describe Walsh as extraordinary.
Deborah Delaney, 53, Walsh's former English teacher at Copiague High School, called her "the epitome of what a teenager should be."
Peter Casale, 42, another former teacher, said simply: "Any father would be lucky to have her as a daughter. Any teacher would be lucky to have her as a student."
Inside the funeral home, flowers and a teddy bear sat atop Walsh's coffin. Outside, a nearly continuous flow of cars -- several with bumper stickers that read Copiague High School Seniors '12 -- cycled in and out of the parking lot.
For some of the teenage visitors, Walsh's wake was the first they'd ever attended.
"We're looking at things differently," said Keith Blackler, 19, of Copiague, who went to school with Walsh. "We're trying to appreciate everything we have."
Blackler was with his girlfriend, Jackie Roth, on Sunday night at Roth's house when Walsh's accident happened just across the street. He saw the aftermath.
"There was a soccer ball in the street," Blackler said. "I knew she played soccer."