PEEKSKILL, NY—The sadness from Sunday's fatal two-car crash in the Village of Goshen which claimed the life of a Peekskill police officer and 90-year-old Oneonta woman was immediately felt here.
But Peekskill isn't the only community dealing the loss.
About three hours away, north in the town of Oneonta, Otsego County, a family continues to struggle with the loss of its matriarch. Even further away, west in California, a family must deal with the unsettling task of making sure a body is returned to them so they can make funeral arrangements.
“It’s just a tragedy,” said Antonio Avanzato, whose mother died during Sunday’s fatal crash. “It is just one of those devasting tragedies.”
Officer Julian Hermosillo, 29, of Chester, Orange County, and Giuseppa Avanzato, 90, both died as a result of injuries suffered from Sunday’s crash.
The accident happened at about 8:41 p.m. when Hermosillo, who was off-duty at the time, was traveling east on Route 17 in a 1994 Jeep Wrangler when he lost control of his vehicle and crossed over the guide rail into the westbound lane.
Hermosillo then collided with a 2011 Audi driven by Vincenzo Avanzato, 57, of Oneonta, near Exit 122A. Vincent Avanzato and his family were heading home from Connecticut after he attended a birthday party for his grandchild.
Vincent Avanzato was transported to Orange Regional Medical Center and admitted to the critical care unit. His condition has since improved and he was transported to another room.
“He’s going to recover,” Antonio Avanzato said of his brother.
Vincent Avanzato’s wife and another family friend who was in the Audi received minor injuries, according to state police.
The accident remains under investigation.
Peekskill police Lt. Eric Johansen said his department is currently in the process of trying to transport Hermosillo’s body back to his family in California.
Antonio Avanzato said he had also driven to Connecticut and was on his way back home Sunday, but he decided to take Interstate 87 instead of Route 17. He said his brother made the trip frequently and his mother still loved to travel despite her advanced age.
“She just went to Italy this summer,” Antonio Avanzato said. “She still has a sister and brother there and she wanted to see them. She still travelled all the way to Italy—she was a trooper.”
Giuseppa Avanzato moved to the United States with her husband, three sons and daughter about 46 years ago. They settled in Oneonta and opened a restaurant called Stella Luna.
Antonio Avanzato said his mother had a total of 13 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren.
“She used to always go to the restaurant and cook,” Antonio Avanzato said. “She made a lot of food at that restaurant. She really loved her family and her grandchildren. She was strong.”
He said a viewing for his mother would likely take place Sunday and a burial would take place Monday.
“The community support has been great,” Antonio Avanzato said. “We’re pretty well known around here, between the restaurant and everything else. We’ve had an overwhelming amount of people offer their condolences through email, text or just stopping by.”