Tragedy struck last night in the Ditmas Park section of Brooklyn, as the daughter of a prominent local activist and her friend were crushed by a fallen tree and killed.
The female victim was Jessie Streich-Kest, the daughter of Jon Kest, executive director for New York Communities for Change, according to a spokesman for the family. Council Member Mathieu Eugene identified the male victim as Jacob Vogelman of First Street in Brooklyn.
Neighborhood residents said the victims were out last night walking a dog when a tree was uprooted from the sidewalk and trapped the pair beneath its weight. They were discovered on Ditmas Avenue near East 18th Street early this morning.
“Jessie was an amazing young woman who was known and loved by many NYCC members, staff and allies,” said Jonathan Westin, the spokesman for the Kest family, in an emailed statement. “Jessie loved life and was deeply devoted to social justice.”
Ms. Streich-Kest, 24, was a teacher at Bushwick High School for Social Justice, the spokesman said. She attended Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn, and belonged to Facebook networks for the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University and New York University. She had previously done activist work with New Yorkers for Clean, Livable & Safe Streets, and engaged in protests against horse-drawn carriages.
Mr. Vogelman, a friend of Ms. Streich-Kest from middle school, graduated from SUNY Buffalo with a degree in theater design, according to his LinkedIn page, and was currently studying at Brooklyn College. According to the Ditmas Park Corner, he attended Goldstein High School near Manhattan Beach.
Pat Atia, who lives across Ditmas Avenue from the scene of the accident, told The Observer that the worst of Hurricane Sandy lashed Ditmas Park yesterday between the hours of 8 and 9:30 p.m., when she could hear trees whipping in the wind. “I knew something was going to give,” said Ms. Atia, who had a large tree felled on her lawn. “If I would have known someone was out there, I would have done something,” she said.
A New York Police Department spokeswoman confirmed that a male and female were found dead at the Ditmas Park location, but wouldn’t confirm the names of the deceased until the victim’s families were notified. There have been 12 storm-related deaths in New York City, the spokeswoman said.
The Ditmas Park Corner reported that the dog, Max, a white pit bull mix, was taken to an emergency veterinary hospital.