Neighbors recall 2 of the victims killed in Metro-North derailment

Left: James Lovell, 58, of Cold Spring is

Left: James Lovell, 58, of Cold Spring is shown in this undated photo. Right: Donna Smith, 54, of Newburgh, is shown in this undated Facebook photo. Lovell and Smith died after a Metro-North train derailed in the Bronx on Dec. 1, 2013. Photo Credit: Handout/Facebook

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Glimpses into the lives of some victims of Sunday's Metro-North derailment emerged Sunday night with descriptions such as good neighbors and family men and women.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority identified those killed in the rail accident as Donna L. Smith, 54, of Newburgh; James G. Lovell, 58, of Cold Spring; James M. Ferrari, 59, of Montrose; and Ahn Kisook, 35, of Queens.

Smith moved to her historic Newburgh home in a community called Colonial Terraces about 14 years ago, and last summer completed extensive renovations on the house, her friend and neighbor said.

And Lovell was "a family man" who worked on theatrical projects and often played with his kids, friends and neighbors said.

The wife and a friend of Ferrari were too shaken to speak; and Ahn's family could not be reached.

Lovell "was a great neighbor," said Alberto Hernandez. "He was a family man . . . He was a great husband. He worked hard. He worked in the city. He was always playing with his kids."

A family friend told The Journal News of Westchester and Rockland counties that Lovell worked as a writer and a sound and lighting designer on theatrical projects. The friend said he was traveling to Manhattan to work on the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, which is being lit Wednesday.

The paper reported that Lovell was the husband of Nancy Montgomery, a Philipstown councilwoman. He had four children: Brooke, a daughter, and sons Jack, Hudson and Finn.

"Word can't express how much my father meant to me," son Finn Lovell wrote about his father on the Instagram social networking site. "It's safe to say he molded me into the man I am today. I love you and I miss you. I can't believe your (sic) gone. This feels like an awful nightmare that I can't wake up from. Rest easy dad. I love you."

Smith, who lived alone, was a Girl Scout troop leader and hard worker, said her next-door neighbor Lynn Davis, 60. She put in central air conditioning, new windows and painted her 1917-era house white, Davis said.

"She was a very, very lovely person," Davis said. "I'd ask her, 'Where you going?' And she'd say, 'We're going on a camping trip with my troop.' She was a hard worker. She carried on two jobs" -- as a paralegal and income-tax preparer.

Smith and her younger sister, who lived in New Windsor, were close, Davis said. She said Smith's sister's car was parked in front of her home. Davis said she thinks the sisters may have been on the train together.

"It seemed like whenever I saw Donna, she was with her sister," Davis said. "They were like two peas in a pod. They just had each other."

Davis said Smith was unmarried and didn't have children. Smith's mother passed away a few years ago, she said.

Kathryn Cerone, 69, who also lives next door to Smith, said her neighbor was a "wonderful person, a very vibrant person, an active woman" who worked hard and had season tickets to the Hudson Valley Renegades baseball team.

"It's absolutely shocking," Cerone said of Smith's death. "I still cannot believe it. It's just so sad."

When Smith went on vacation, Cerone collected her neighbor's mail and newspaper and watched her house. Smith would sometimes cut her hedges or mow her lawn and Cerone would return the favor.

"She was just a really nice neighbor to have," said Cerone. "I'm gonna miss her. She was a lovely person."

Comments now uses Facebook for our comment boards. Please read our guidelines and connect your Facebook account to comment.

You also may be interested in: