Hundreds of residents, members of the local fire department and school community attended a candlelight vigil Friday night in Lindenhurst for the family of Diane Aluska — the woman killed on Mother’s Day when a car struck her after she had pushed her daughter out of harm’s way.
Aluska, 55, and her daughter, Jenna, 16, were walking on a sidewalk on South Wellwood Avenue in the village when a 2005 Toyota Corolla hit Aluska and clipped Jenna, Suffolk police said.
“They’re amazing people, they’re amazing people,” Kenny Aluska, Diane’s husband and Jenna’s father, said in an interview at the vigil about those who attended it. He is a letter carrier in Munsey Park.
Later Kenny Aluska addressed the gathering, held at the gazebo downtown, and said Jenna, a sophomore at Lindenhurst High School, was physically having good days and bad.
“She’s doing very well,” Aluska said. “The doctor said there would be a lot of ups and downs, which it is.”
Police said Ann Riolo, 80, had backed the Corolla out of a parking spot when it went onto the sidewalk where the Aluskas were walking and then crashed into the Lindenhurst Fire Department.
The Corolla was impounded for a safety check and the crash remains under investigation.
“We’ve all been affected by this,” said Lisa Patto, 48, who along with her husband, Rocco, also 48, arranged the vigil. “It’s the type of town where when someone has adversity we help out.”
Lisa Patto said many fundraising activities were being held for the family and a collection was taken during the vigil.
“The community is really coming together,” Lisa Patto said. About $20,000 had already been raised before the vigil, she added.
Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer said the community remained “numb.” Diane Aluska had worked in the town clerk’s office, he said, and she was the “glue” that held it together.
“The gravity of the situation is almost impossible to comprehend,” said Daniel Giordano, schools superintendent.
Lindenhurst Fire Chief Paul Vinciguerra said firefighters attended the vigil because the crash happened at the firehouse.
“This has touched a chord in everybody,” Vinciguerra said.
Visiting for Diane Aluska will be Monday, from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m., at the Noce Funeral Home, 189 Rte. 109 in West Babylon.