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4 victims shared work ethic, good hearts

Emergency personnel respond to the scene of a

Emergency personnel respond to the scene of a Metro-North passenger train derailment in the Bronx. (Dec. 1, 2013) Credit: AP

They were hard workers who often gave of themselves.

James Ferrari was bound for his six-days-a-week post, nurse Kisook Ahn was heading home after a 121/2-hour shift, Donna Smith had two jobs to sock away retirement money and James Lovell liked to write outside of his sound and lighting jobs.

They were the four who died in Sunday's Metro-North train crash in the Bronx.

Even though he had only one day a week off, Ferrari, 59, of Montrose, found time to help friends outside his job as the superintendent of a Manhattan office building, said friend Renata Martello, 31, of Port Chester.

Last summer, when Martello's sink blew up around 10 p.m., she called Ferrari.

"He and his wife drove 20 to 25 minutes just to fix my sink," she said. "Anything I needed, I just called and he came."

On Sunday morning, Ferrari was on his way to 53rd Street and Madison Avenue, a Sunday routine for a job he held for 25 years, Martello said.

Martello, who answered the phone at Ferrari's home, said he was a devoted husband to his wife, Fracisleide, and a devoted father to his college-age daughter, Rebecca, both of whom were too distraught to comment.

It's also been hard for friends of Ahn, whose smiles and kindness belied her "tough life" of college study and work in a culture far from her native Korea.

Ahn, 35, had just finished a 121/2-hour shift as a registered nurse at the Sunshine Children's Home and Rehab Center in Ossining, a pediatric residential facility that treats severely ill children, said Linda Mosiello, Sunshine's administrator.

"She was committed to making them smile," Mosiello said. "She had a very warm, loving compassionate way about her."

She started at the center in 2010 and had been recruited to work in the United States by Perfect Choice Staffing, a Woodbury-based health care staffing agency, said Mosiello.

Myung Cho, president of the Greater New York Korean Nurses Association, said the nurse often volunteered at events.

Ahn was close to getting a permanent residency card to live in a country where she faced cultural barriers, Cho said, adding, "Her life was very tough."

Like Ahn, Smith, 54, of Newburgh relied mostly on herself. The paralegal, who lived alone, also prepared returns during tax season to earn money.

Smith was on the train with her younger sister Linda, whose choral group was holding its annual recital in Manhattan.

Linda Smith, 45, walked away with bruises but lost a best friend, their uncle said.

"They did many things together, participating in cancer walks, Habitat for Humanity, Girl Scouts," said Charles Hahn, 78, their maternal uncle. "About the only way they would have been closer is if they were twins."

Attorney Maureen Crush said Smith "was our first hire" after starting a firm with other lawyers about two years ago. "She has all sorts of great skill sets -- a hardworking personality."

Lovell, 58, of Cold Spring, was also bound for Manhattan to work on the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, which is being lit Wednesday.

His wife, Nancy Montgomery, told CNN: "He was pure goodness. . . . I want people to know how good Jim was."

With Ellen Yan

and Maria Alvarez

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