A day in a while Long Island, the merciless symmetry of tragedy was nonetheless an excessive amount of for household, associates and officials to understand.
Evelyn Rodriguez, a fierce wisp of a mom who had gone to Washington and spoken privately with President Donald Trump about MS-13, the transnational gang that killed her daughter Kayla Cuevas and a good friend, Nisa Mickens, with a machete in September 2016, had devoted her life to her daughter’s reminiscence.
On Friday afternoon, two years virtually to the date, she died fighting for her reminiscence.
Rodriguez, 50, was run over by a automotive in Brentwood, Long Island, on the scene of a memorial for her daughter, police mentioned. Rodriguez and Kayla’s father, Freddy Cuevas, had been in a dispute with the driving force a couple of shrine she had put up.
The police on Saturday had not filed expenses and would solely say an investigation was persevering with. They definitively dominated out any connection between MS-13 and Rodriguez’s death.
“It’s beyond grief,” mentioned Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., who represents Brentwood and had turn into shut with Rodriguez. “I can’t imagine a more horrific death for a child than being macheted to death and a more horrific death of an adult than being crushed by a vehicle.”
Barbara Medina, Rodriguez’s closest good friend, was not there when Rodriguez was struck by the automotive, however mentioned she had spoken with Cuevas, the longtime partner of Rodriguez, who gave an account of what occurred.
“They had set up a shrine for Kayla’s second anniversary,” Medina mentioned. “When they returned, the shrine was gone, the balloon had popped, as well as Kayla’s picture, everything was gone.”
Both Rodriguez and Cuevas had been seen on footage recorded Friday by News 12, a local tv outlet, confronting the driving force of a white SUV — apparently concerning the disassembled shrine — about 90 minutes before the memorial was to start. The police mentioned the driving force was associated to a house owner on the block.
As seen within the video, Cuevas waved his arms angrily and began strolling to the again of the car whereas Rodriguez stayed to the driving force’s facet. It was then, in keeping with Medina, that the driving force accelerated.
“She hit her, ran over her twice,” Medina mentioned. “This was just senseless.”
The driver stayed to call 911, police mentioned.
The Suffolk County Police Department mentioned Friday that there had been a dispute over the position of the memorial however wouldn’t remark additional on the specifics of the occasions.
“She meant everything to me,” Cuevas mentioned in a brief interview wherein he was inconsolable besides to reward Rodriguez’s power and encouragement.
Arrangements had been made for a wake Thursday in Brentwood on the similar funeral home that buried Kayla.
As tributes poured in from Trump on Twitter, Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a press release and from different leaders, it was clear that in her life, Rodriguez united individuals along with her plain will. No mom, she mentioned, ought to should undergo what she did.
Rodriguez grew up within the Bronx and in Puerto Rico; her public stance against unlawful immigration, she mentioned, was against criminals coming into the nation and enrolling in faculties.
“There was never a hint that she was blaming anyone political,” King mentioned.
Rodriguez targeted her message to Trump on getting more cash for faculties for gang-prevention applications and on security measures there. She had sued the Brentwood college district for negligence in Kayla’s death and her dispute with an MS-13 gang member that officials mentioned started at college.
Rodriguez, together with the dad and mom of Nisa, had attended the State of the Union in January as a visitor of first girl Melania Trump.
In May, she labored with King to have Trump seem at a round-table dialogue in Long Island. She helped prepare the attendance of members of the family, within the nation illegally, of 4 younger Latino males who had been additionally killed by MS-13.
“I never met anyone with more guts and more courage and never felt sorry for herself,” King mentioned. “She never ever said, ‘Why is this happening to me?’ She always wanted to protect other people.”
King mentioned he was on his approach to the vigil when he discovered she had died. When he acquired there, King mentioned, streams of individuals had been coming down the road unaware of what had occurred. As phrase quickly unfold, individuals’s faces went clean, King mentioned: “It was almost like, ‘What’s going to happen next to this community?'”
In summer season 2017, as Rodriguez ready to see Trump for the first time at a speech before regulation enforcement officers on Long Island, she spoke of her activism.
Her phrases learn like an epitaph.
“There are days where you feel like you want your world to end, just like your child’s,” Rodriguez mentioned. “Then you realize you have a new purpose: to fight, so that your child’s death is not in vain.”
This article initially appeared in The New York Times.