Throngs of mourners gathered at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Roman Catholic Church on W51st Street Thursday to pay tribute to Ava Conklin, a Hell’s Kitchen teenager who was hit and killed by a car last weekend while waiting for a bus from her job in The Rockaways.
Ava, 19, lived in Hell’s Kitchen and is the daughter of Chrissy Collins and Matt Conklin. According to the NYPD, she was waiting in front of a Walgreens on Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach 108th Street in Queens on Saturday June 24 after her shift working at the Rockaway Hotel when a driver lost control of their vehicle and jumped the curb, striking three metal benches and Ava (The Wave). A college student home on break, Ava had planned to meet her 14-year-old sister Peyton and travel to Central Park when the incident occurred. Ava was rushed to Brookdale Hospital in Brownsville with severe bodily trauma but was pronounced dead upon arrival. The driver, who remains unidentified, was determined to have fallen asleep at the wheel. They have not yet been charged.
On Wednesday afternoon and evening, friends and family lined up on W43rd Street outside Crestwood Funeral Home to pay their respects to the popular neighborhood teenager — and today the church on W51st Street was full for the Funeral Mass. Outside the church the Emerald Society Pipes & Drums played, and workers and officers from the Department of Sanitation (where Ava’s father, uncles and cousins work) were in attendance in full uniform. Several unofficial social media accounts for the department had posted about the services, encouraging fellow workers to support Ava’s family in the wake of her death. Friends have also started a Meal Train appeal for the Conklin family in Broad Channel, NY — as of this evening, $31,008 had been raised. There is also a GoFundMe set up for mom Chrissy Collins and family that has so far raised $11,831.
There will be a Celebration of Life held at the scene of the accident on Beach 108th on Friday at 7:30 pm. Since Sunday, flowers have been placed by locals and family at the location.
Ava’s death comes as concerns grow over pedestrian safety, locally and across the city. The State Assembly recently failed to pass Sammy’s Law, a speed limit and pedestrian safety proposal named after Sammy Eckstein, one of hundreds of New Yorkers who have been killed by speeding drivers since 2013.
Ava’s obituary remembered the Hell’s Kitchen teen as a “radiant spirit” whose “kind nature touched the lives of all who knew her. Her capacity to love knew no bounds, as she had a heart filled with affection for everyone and everything around her,” the obituary stated. An aspiring psychologist, passionate theater and music fan and a savvy thrift shopper, “she had a vibrant sense of adventure and an appreciation for life’s simple pleasures,” it added. “Above all, Ava treasured her friends and family, prioritizing quality time with them. She had an uncanny ability to create lasting memories and foster deep connections.”
Ava’s mother, Chrissy, said on Instagram: “My heart is broken into a million pieces. My baby girl is gone. This world did not deserve such a sweet soul. May you dance with the angels and sing with the doves. Rest easy my girl. I will think of you when I watch every sunset and know you’re looking down at me from the clouds #forever19 💔🕊️ I love you forever and ever.”