The funeral for NYPD officer Emilia Rennhack was held Saturday in New Hyde Park. NewsdayTV's Drew Scott reports. Credit: Newsday/James Carbone, Kendall Rodriguez; Photo Credit: NYPD

This story was reported by Joe Werkmeister, Joseph Ostapiuk and Matthew Chayes. It was written by Chayes.

When Emilia Rennhack was a child in Poland, she taught her younger brother to ride a bicycle on the family farm. She helped him up each time, even as he fell over for three hours, the brother, Karol Kowalczyk, recalled Saturday.

And when she wasn't teaching, she was learning — three languages: English and Spanish, in addition to her native tongue. Or working multiple jobs through school, or playing soccer, or moving to America and then starting work as an NYPD officer, Kowalczyk said.

“I never understood how you managed it all,” Kowalczyk said, addressing his sister, in a eulogy at the New Hyde Park Funeral Home.

NYPD Officer Emilia Rennhack worked in the 102nd Precinct in Richmond...

NYPD Officer Emilia Rennhack worked in the 102nd Precinct in Richmond Hill, Queens.  Credit: NYPD News

On Saturday, Kowalczyk and hundreds more mourned Rennhack, who had been in Deer Park at a nail salon eight days earlier when she and three other New Yorkers were killed by an allegedly drunken driver who crashed through the store.

“It wasn’t supposed to be this way,” an NYPD chaplain, the Rev. Michael Eguino, said Saturday at the service for Rennhack, 30. “She had so many things ahead of her, and her life was taken so tragically.” Eguino noted that she had recently married.

The homily was translated into Polish as he spoke for Rennhack's family.

In a eulogy, New York City Mayor Eric Adams called Rennhack “the best of our city.”

“You brought your daughter here to pursue the American dream,” Adams said, addressing Rennhack’s parents.

Adams lamented the loss, saying there is “no rationale” for her death.

“Mothers and fathers should not bury their children,” Adams said.

Rennhack was the only customer killed in the crash. The others were workers and the owner of the salon, Hawaii Nail & Spa on Grand Boulevard in Deer Park: the owner, Jiancai Chen, 37, of Bayside, Queens; and salon employees Yan Xu, 41, and Meizi Zhang, 50, both of Flushing. Chen’s wife and eight other people were injured in the crash. 

The driver, Steven Schwally, 64, was allegedly speeding in his 2020 Chevy Traverse SUV and has been charged with drunken driving.

Kowalczyk called his sister “one of the toughest, strongest and hardest-working people I have ever known.”

He credited his sister for his “proudest achievement” — earning a master’s degree from Columbia University. On the day of his graduation, he told his sister, “I did this because of you.” Then, he recalled how they cried together.

He said Saturday that his sister will continue to inspire him.

“I know I’ve made you proud as a brother, and I swear I’ll make you even prouder as you look at me and the world from up above,” he said.

Fellow police officers gather for the funeral of the NYPD's Emilia...

Fellow police officers gather for the funeral of the NYPD's Emilia Rennhack on Saturday in New Hyde Park. Credit: Dawn McCormick

Her husband, Carl Rennhack, an NYPD detective, said she was an “angel” and a “pillar” of the community.

“She impacted so many lives in her 30 years on this planet,” he said.

The two had met at work, at the 102nd Precinct in Richmond Hill, Queens.

He recalled the first time he asked her to grab a quick bite to eat after a shift. He said they spoke for nine hours — something he remembers as “the most beautiful conversation I’ve ever had in my life.”

“We became inseparable, our lives became entwined,” he said. “She was so beautiful inside and out, and every time she smiled it made me feel alive.”

He said the two had “so many more plans” for their future.

“But instead of being sad over the things we didn’t accomplish, I’m happy and blessed we were able to do so much in the time that we had together,” he said.

Earlier, the president of the rank-and-file officers’ union, Patrick Hendry of the Police Benevolent Association, stood outside the funeral home and pointed toward a video screen displaying photographs of Rennhack.

“Those photos of our police officer Emilia tell it all,” he said. “That infectious smile brought joy to the 102 Precinct station house. She was just a friendly person who was liked by everyone who met her.”

He added: “Today we mourn the loss of our sister.”

The Suffolk police said that Schwally, a homeless man, was speeding through a shopping center across the street from the nail salon when he nearly hit several pedestrians, then sped through the intersection on Grand Boulevard, jumped the curb of the salon’s strip mall and crashed through the salon.

Officers bear Emilia Rennhack's coffin out of the New Hyde Park Funeral...

Officers bear Emilia Rennhack's coffin out of the New Hyde Park Funeral Home Saturday. Credit: Dawn McCormick

As the service concluded, about 200 NYPD officers lined up on Lakeville Road as eight officers carried Rennhack’s coffin, draped in an NYPD flag, from the funeral home to a waiting hearse. Carl Rennhack stood as his mother gently placed her right hand on his back.

A pair of police trumpeters played taps as a police department helicopter whirred overhead. The NYPD flag was removed from the coffin, folded, and presented to her family. 

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