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Queens Chronicle

Tribute unveiled for Madeline Sershen

Co-naming ceremony and vigil to honor the life of Whitestone teen

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Posted: Wednesday, November 27, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 12:42 pm, Thu Dec 5, 2019.

Friends, family and community members gathered to honor the life of Madeline Sershen on Thursday, Nov. 21 with a ceremony and candelight vigil.

The ceremony was followed by the unveiling of “Madeline Sershen Way,” a commemorative co-naming of the Utopia Parkway and 16th Avenue intersection, the site where Sershen was struck by a vechicle and killed in June 2018.

“Today, as we are gathered here, I remind you of that intelligent, loving, fierce being: the daughter, sister, aunt, granddaughter, niece, cousin, friend, student, classmate and role model she forever will be to each one of us,” her sister Olivia Sershen said at the ceremony. “Today, we unveil this tribute to her, which won’t bring her back, but will honor her forever. For that, my family and I thank you, Councilman Vallone.”

Councilmember Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) organized the ceremony, and was joined by the community that knew and loved Sershen during her short life. Senator John Liu (D-Flushing) and Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside) were also in attendance.

Sershen, a native Whitestone resident, was just 17 years old at the time of her death. She was struck by Sheila Kahn-Prager, an 88-year-old woman with glaucoma and a track record of unsafe driving. The tragedy sparked petitions for license reform for elderly drivers, including a 23,400-signature petition calling on Cuomo and the Department of Motor Vehicles to require testing for drivers over the age of 80 every two years.

Sershen was a rising senior at St. Francis Preparatory School at the time of her death, and many members of the school community appeared at the vigil.

“Maddie was taken much too early. She was your typical teenager having a typical day and not doing a thing wrong,” said Principal Patrick McLaughlin. “She has not passed from this life in vain, she has left with us a movement concerning driving laws that will save countless lives in the future. Certainly, the street named for her is a fitting tribute to a beautiful young person. We at St. Francis Prep continue to keep Maddie, her family and friends in our prayers.”

“I ask you all to remember Maddie and keep her alive not just here in this moment today, and not just here on Madeline Sershen Way, but at every crosswalk you pass, every red light you stop at, with every pedestrian you see walking,” Olivia Sershen said. “I hope you are reminded of her in all the ordinary moments your life has to offer and in all your special ones.”

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