The grief-stricken Irish parents of the two girls who were run over by a car at a church festival in Yonkers last Friday night are maintaining a constant vigil at the bedside of their surviving daughter Lindsey, and deferring memorial arrangements for their 15-year-old daughter Kalie who was killed in the accident.
The parents spoke to Irish Voice/IrishCentral on Tuesday and said they have been told their daughter can make a full recovery.
Meanwhile the driver who knocked down the two girls, local schoolteacher Roseanne Piccirilli, has issued a statement of condolence.
"My prayers go out to the Gill family at this time of loss and tragedy. I am grateful for the kindness they have shown in their public statements, and cannot even imagine the sense of loss that they feel," said the statement by Roseanne Piccirilli.
"My family and I are praying for the recovery of Lindsey and ask that God will watch over her and over the soul of her sister Kalie," she said. "This is a wonderful family, and what has happened is so very tragic."
Her husband, Nick Piccirilli, told a Journal News reporter to "tell them we appreciate what they said. and that his wife was 'too distraught' to speak about the incident."
Speaking to the Irish Voice on Tuesday morning at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx while 12-year-old Lindsey was undergoing surgery, shattered Co. Leitrim natives Damien and Karen Gill said Lindsey’s condition is improving and she is expected to eventually make a full recovery.
Her Tuesday morning surgery was to repair a broken femur, but her father said Lindsey was “doing very good.”
“She’s a tough one. She’s a fighter,” Gill added. “She has a lot of broken bones. She has been under sedation and has been in pain.”
Lindsey, Gill said, does not know that her sister and best friend Kalie was killed. “No, there’s enough going on with her right now that she doesn’t need to know,” Gill said.
The Gills were surrounded by friends and family members from Ireland in the Jacobi waiting room, all of whom remain in a state of shock at the disaster that snatched Kalie’s life at such a young age.
“Kalie was wonderful, the best. Just perfect,” a teary-eyed Karen Gill, a stay-at-home mom, told the Irish Voice.
Damien Gill, a carpenter, watched a video of Kalie and Lindsey earlier on Tuesday. “You’d see one and then you’d see the other. They were always together,” he said.
“In the video they were dancing around to a Rihanna song and having a pillow fight.”
On Friday night, the girls attended the annual festival for St. Paul the Apostle Church in Yonkers. They were accompanied by friends and a cousin, “ready to have lots of fun,” Damien said.
Shortly after 9 p.m. a Jeep driven by a sixth grade school teacher at St. Paul’s, Roseanne Piccirilli, inexplicably plowed into the crowd at the festival, fatally striking Kalie and seriously injuring Lindsey. Two other people suffered minor injuries.
Kalie was pronounced dead at Jacobi, while Lindsey underwent a series of surgeries and is facing more in the days to come.
The Gills said they don’t know what happened to make Piccirilli lose control of the vehicle. Even though their lives will never be the same, they hold no animosity towards the schoolteacher who is said to be devastated by the atrocity.
“They don’t know what happened, but I feel very sorry for her,” said Damien Gill. “It’s something she’ll have to live with too.”
Relatives from Ireland have made the journey to New York to offer support to the Gill family, and more are expected in the days ahead. “Yes, they feel helpless back at home,” said Damien, who only returned from Ireland last week after burying his mother.
The family had originally moved to New York from Co. Leitrim in 1990. Their children – including daughter Jamie, 21 – were born here before the family relocated back to Leitrim for several years to run their own business. The Gills returned to the heavily Irish Woodlawn section of the Bronx during the summer.
Kalie was a beloved sophomore at St. Barnabas High School, while Lindsey attended the local PS. Jamie is employed at the Rambling House bar and restaurant in Woodlawn owned by the Carty family from Leitrim, who are indirectly related to the Gills through marriage. The Rambling House is currently accepting donations for the Gill family.
The outpouring of concern from the Irish American community has provided some solace for the Gills during their darkest days.
“We just want to say thank you,” Karen Gill said.
“People have been so kind. We could feed the whole hospital with all of the donations of food we’ve gotten,” Damien added.
Kalie Gill’s friends remain stunned by the tragedy. A touching video tribute to Kalie on YouTube has attracted close to 2,000 views and dozens of loving comments.
Roseanne Piccirilli has taught nine years at St.Paul the Apostle and has not returned to work.
"She's not thinking about anything like that," said the Rev. James Healy, of St. Paul's. "I don't think at this point she knows what she's doing. She's just consumed with the loss of this girl.”
Watch a tribute for Kalie Gill posted to YouTube below: