SPARKILL, N.Y. -- The tiny, closeknit community of Sparkill on Thursday is offering prayers and support for the Flanagan family following Abigail Flanagan's tragic death in a bus accident in Honduras Wednesday.
"Our prayers and sympathy are with the family," said Sister Lorraine LaRocca, a spokeswoman with the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill. "We are so grateful for the trip she made to Honduras and for the difference she was making in the world."
Abigail Flanagan, 45, one of three women killed, was part of a group of nurses finishing up a medical service mission to help the poor when their bus veered off a road and fell at least 260 feet into a ravine east of the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa. It was unclear what caused the deadly crash, but mechanical failure may have contributed to it, according to firefighter spokesman Capt. Gustavo Barahon.
The women were identified as Olivia Varley Erhardt and 20, Daniella Moffson, 21. Flanagan was a nurse practitioner at the Columbia University Medical Center as well as a student, according a statement from Barnard’s president, Debora Spar.
Flanagan’s son, Patrick, was one of the organizers of the trip.
The group was in the Central American country with Global Brigades, a health and international development organization that offered a seven-day trip ending Wednesday.
Bruce Woolley, owner of Diplomat Health and Swim Club, said he needed a moment to compose himself when asked about the tragedy.
"Oh my gosh, what a terrible tragedy," he said. "Here was someone who was donating their skills and their heart to others; it's hard to wrap your head around this tragedy."
Flanagan emigrated from Trinidad before becoming a registered nurse and getting her doctorate degrees in nursing.
Rohan Ranadive, a neighbor, said he and his family, who know the Flanagan family, are in a complete state of shock.
"They are a very nice family," said Ranadive. "Sparkill is a very small town. When something like this happens, neighbors will reach out and comfort the family in any way we can."
Another neighbor who preferred not to be identified said the family likely needs some quiet now, but there's no doubt the community will honor Abigail Flanagan's memory.
"On behalf of our residents, I offer sincerest condolences to Abigail's family and friends on the loss of such a compassionate and extraordinary person," said Rockland County Executive Ed Day. "She will be remembered as a remarkable and brave woman who dedicated her life to providing hope to those in need."
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