The day before a Friday candlelight vigil in Lindenhurst for Diane Aluska’s relatives, the family of the driver whose car struck and killed Aluska on Mother’s Day issued a statement sending prayers and condolences.
“Our family sends its heartfelt prayers to the grieving Aluska family for their devastating loss in this tragic accident,” read the statement from Ann Riolo, 80, and her family, also of Lindenhurst, released Thursday by their attorney and friend, Todd Greenberg. “There are no words to describe the sadness in our hearts and the deep sympathy we feel.”
Greenberg said Riolo is “extremely distraught about what had occurred.”
Diane Aluska’s husband, Kenny Aluska, could not be reached for comment.
The vigil will be held at 7 p.m. at the village gazebo, according to a notice on the Lindenhurst school district’s website. Aluska’s daughter, Jenna, 16, is a sophomore at Lindenhurst High School.
The mother and daughter were walking on a sidewalk on South Wellwood Avenue when a 2005 Toyota Corolla, driven by Riolo and going in reverse, hit Diane Aluska and clipped Jenna, Suffolk police said. Diane Aluska had pushed her daughter out of the way of the car, authorities said.
Diane Aluska, 55, was pronounced dead later Sunday at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip.
Riolo, the driver, had just backed the Corolla out of a parking spot when it went onto the sidewalk where the mother and daughter were walking and then crashed into the Lindenhurst Fire Department, police said.
The Corolla was impounded for a safety check and the investigation is continuing.
At Friday’s vigil, a collection will be taken for the family, according to the school district’s notice. Food and drinks have been donated and will be for sale, with the proceeds going to the Aluskas, it said.
Rocco Patto and his wife, Lisa, who are members of a local neighborhood watch group and maintain a Facebook page called “Eyes on Lindy,” organized the vigil though they do not know the Aluska family personally.
In Lindenhurst, everyone is a neighbor, said Rocco Patto, 48, adding that he has received a large number of responses from people who want to help.
“It is the type of community that when one of the families faces a troubled time, we all get together and take care of them — and it has been that way since Hurricane Sandy,” he said, referring to the storm that struck Long Island on Oct. 29, 2012, and during which Lindenhurst sustained severe flooding and heavy damage.