U.S. District Judge Sandra J. Feuerstein, killed while walking on a Florida sidewalk Friday morning by a hit-and-run driver, according to police, was remembered on Sunday by her sons as a trailblazer who inspired many and devoted herself to her children's pursuits.
The judge, who was assigned to the federal courthouse in Central Islip and lived in Suffolk County, was "everything a child could want from a mother," her son Adam Feuerstein wrote in an email to Newsday, which he said also reflected the views of his brother Seth Feuerstein.
"And more than most people could imagine. She was always there for us and there wasn't anything that she wouldn't do for us."
A driver struck and killed Feuerstein, 75, around 10 a.m. Friday while she was walking along Ocean Boulevard in Boca Raton, police said. The driver of the car, 23-year-old Nastasia Snape, then struck a 6-year-old boy, drove away, and crashed in Delray Beach, according to a probable-cause affidavit in court records. The boy survived, a Boca Raton police spokeswoman said.
Snape was charged with vehicular homicide and committing a hit-and-run involving death, according to court documents.
The brothers said their mother was in Florida visiting friends and they believed she had been on a morning walk.
The family has not finalized funeral arrangements, they said.
In 2003, President George W. Bush nominated Feuerstein to the federal bench. The U.S. Senate confirmed her appointment, 92-0.
When she became a state court trial judge in 1994, Feuerstein's mother, Annette Elstein, an immigration court judge in New York, conducted her daughter's swearing-in. The two are believed to be America's first pair of mother-daughter judges.
The brothers said their mother found the "mythical balance between work and family."
Earlier in her career, Sandra Feuerstein worked as an elementary school teacher. She took a break from teaching after her sons were born; she wanted a return to work but had lost her tenure as a teacher.
"She turned that into an opportunity to go to law school and had a successful legal career culminating in her appointment and confirmation as a federal judge, where she continued to serve as a public role model for women," Adam Feuerstein wrote.
He recalled "how proud" he was when "friends would tell me how my Mom was a role model for them and served as an inspiration for them."
The brothers said she had no connection to the 6-year-old.
Feuerstein's death has prompted condolences from across the legal community, including Yeshiva University's Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
Former Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), who retired last year after 14 terms, tweeted that Feuerstein was an "outstanding jurist and great person."
In addition to her sons, the judge is survived by a sister, Alice Rudnick; she is also survived by a companion, Harvey Besunder.