MANILA – The family a Filipina frontliner in New York who died from her injuries after she was knocked down by a fleeing thief at Times Square is shocked and devastated by what happened to her, her niece said Monday.
Maria Ambrocio, 58, an oncology nurse, was walking through Times Square last Friday after visiting the Philippine Consulate General when she was struck by a thief who was allegedly being chased.
Ambrocio was removed from life support for the head injury she sustained from being knocked down.
Philippine Consul General in New York Elmer Cato said the incident is "the latest in the series of violent acts committed by mentally-ill individuals against members of the Filipino Community in New York City since the start of the year."
In an interview on ABS-CBN's Teleradyo, Michelle Sta. Maria Magalona shared that Ambrocio was with her best friend when the incident happened last Friday.
“Kasama niya yung best friend niya, si Tita Emy. 'Yung BFF niya sa US yung kasama niya. Kasa-kasama niya 'pag may lakad. Kasama din niya sa hospital sa New Jersey. They were walking and then si Tita Emy, they were walking, and then she heard a loud, 'yun bang lumagapak sa pavement,” Magalona said.
(She was with her best friend, Tita Emy, the one she’s always with and the one who was with her at the hospital in New Jersey. They were walking when Tita Emy heard a loud sound as if something hit the pavement.)
“And then the next thing she knew is nakita niya yung blouse ni Tita, nasa floor, nasa pavement. And then, yung nakita na niya si Tita Ningning na nasa unconscious, and then nagkaka-seizure na. So, 'yun po. And then she asked for someone to call 911. And then she was rushed to the hospital,” she added.
(And then the next thing she knew is that she saw Tita’s blouse was already on the floor, on the pavement. Then she saw Tita Ningning unconscious and seemingly having a seizure. Then she asked someone to call 911. Then my aunt was rushed to the hospital.)
“When we learned the news, we were so devastated and so shocked, and ‘di namin alam na siya ba ‘yon? (We didn’t know if it was really her). Parang (It’s just like) it’s all a blur, it’s just a dream na gusto mo lang mag-wake up na hindi pa nangyari kay Tita,” Magalona said.
Magalona said the man who hit her aunt, identified in a New York Post report as Jermaine Foster, is now in police custody.
“Nahuli siya. Kasi nung nabangga niya si Tita Ningning, he was running kasi nga naghablot siya ng cellphone. But that’s second na attempt niya or yung robbery. So after a few blocks, nahuli naman siya, and nasa custody naman ng police now,” said Magalona.
(He was caught, because when he hit Tita Ningning, he was running because he stole a cellphone. But that was his second attempt at robbery. So after a few blocks, he was caught and is now in police custody.)
She added, however, that there are no firm plans to bring home her aunt’s remains to the Philippines just yet.
“Ang initial plan is yung remains ni Tita will be in the US. Magkakaroon ng viewing, and then she will be cremated. On the plans of iuuwi siya or hindi or mag-stay sa US, we’re still in the talks. So ayun, wala pang plano, walang definite na plano pa.”
(The initial plan is my aunt’s remains will be in the US. There will be a viewing, then she’ll be cremated. But whether or not she will be brought home, we’re still talking about it. There are no definite plans yet.)
The Consulate General of the Philippines in New York said that a memorial Mass for Ambrocio will be held at the St. Francis of Assisi Church in New York City at 1:30 p.m., Monday (New York time).
The consulate's Cato had said that the Philippines is reiterating its calls for US authorities to take the necessary steps to protect the public, as well address mental health issues, especially among the homeless.
"How many more Maria Ambrocios do we have to mourn before the streets would be made safe again?" he said.
--TeleRadyo, 11 October 2021