Tucked between the flowers planted at the site of last summer’s tragic limo crash in Cutchogue rests a prayer typed onto a piece of paper. At the bottom reads a note that says “One year too long. We miss you girls.”
It’s one of a handful of remembrances left Monday at a utility pole on the northwest side of Route 48 and Depot Lane, where exactly one year ago four young women were killed and four more were injured when a limo driver attempted a U-turn as a pickup truck approached the intersection.
Luis Vazquez, the President and CEO of the Long Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce visited the roadside memorial along with members of his family and staff to remember his former assistant Lauren Baruch of Smithtown, who was killed in the crash along with Amy Grabina of Commack, Stephanie Belli of Kings Park and Brittney Schulman of Smithtown. The deceased victims were all 23 and 24 years old.
“May she rest in peace and God bless her,” Mr. Vazquez said of Baruch. “She is truly loved. She’s looking down on us.”
The small group left behind a vase with flowers and a book of notes written for Ms. Baruch.
Mr. Vazquez said he always called Ms. Baruch his angel. He remembers before she left for her trip that weekend that he told her to have fun, be safe and to not drink and drive.
The book that now hangs on the pole is filled with messages from people who knew Ms. Baruch. One sentence reads: “Although to us you are gone, your positive impact on us will live on forever and will aid us to be the best people we can be.”
Depot Lane resident Barbara Ripel also visited the scene Monday, recalling how she and others had rushed to the intersection the evening of the crash to see what had happened.
“We think of those girls every time we drive past here,” she said.
Nicolas Garcia visited the site Monday wearing a shirt that represented the foundation Ms. Baruch’s family started in honor of her called the Lawzie Marigold Foundation. The foundation aims to award two female high school seniors scholarships in Ms. Baruch’s name. It also hopes to raise financial support for other worthy causes Ms. Baruch cared about.
A scholarship fund has also been set up in honor of Ms. Grabina through Florida State University, where she had attended.
Ms. Belli’s family members set up a GoFundMe Page in order to start a fund in honor and back in January a dance festival named for her was held at Smithtown High School West. Kickline teams from across Long Island and New Jersey performed in honor of her.