The accident scene late afternoon on Saturday, May 27 (Photo: Kempter's Fire Wire)
The accident scene late afternoon on Saturday, May 27 (Photo: Kempter’s Fire Wire)

The grandchildren of Zoila Zhingri—the 69-year-old woman killed May 27 on Hudson Avenue—tell The Peekskill Post that they not only forgive Maria Inga, the driver who caused the accident that also seriously injured their grandfather, aunt and little cousin, but that her legal status is of little importance to them.

“It does not make a difference if she was here legally or illegally,” said Myriam Pauta, 24. “More than anything, we are a family of immigrants ourselves and were fortunate to go through the process before September 11, when it was easier than it is now. Our family has always been supportive of the immigrant community as a whole and looked out for our fellow Hispanics that may be here undocumented, or anybody here undocumented.”

Myriam Pauta and her cousin Darwin Duque, 2, who remains hospitalized at Westchester Medical Center. (Photo: Myriam Pauta)
Myriam Pauta and her cousin Darwin Duque, 2, who remains hospitalized at Westchester Medical Center. (Photo: Myriam Pauta)

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She continued:

“This is all very sad. I don’t have any anger towards anybody. I don’t think my grandmother would either. We grew up in a Catholic home and were always taught to forgive. I don’t know if she was speeding or running a red light or what the situation might have been, but I looked down that hill and I know that avenue has been the site of so many accidents and it is heartbreaking to see what happened because it is hurtful to both families. We loved our grandmother, almost lost our grandfather and my little cousin—who were both more dead than alive after it happened—and it was very difficult to experience that. My grandfather, aunt and cousin will never be the same, but I still forgive her. It is not just her fault because that intersection has a faulty design.”

Zoila Zhingri (Photo courtesy of Myriam Pauta)
Zoila Zhingri (Photo courtesy of Myriam Pauta)

Myriam’s younger sister, Brittney, 18, who is this year’s valedictorian at Peekskill High School, echoed her sister’s sentiments.

“If you put yourself in her shoes, it is understandable what she is going through,” Brittney said after hearing that Inga is struggling to cope with what happened on May 27. “It was an unfortunate accident and there is that guilt and trauma for her. This is all very sad.”

The City of Peekskill denied a June 9 Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request from The Peekskill Post seeking Inga’s legal status. In replying to the request, Corporation Counsel Melissa Ferraro wrote: “Release would violate individual’s privacy.”

Myriam says it is possible both families have roots in the same Ecuadorian village.

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