Vigil for Beloved Crossing Guard: Community Remembers Queens Woman Who Kept Kids Safe

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Catholic, Faith, Family, Inspiration, Media, Queens, NY

by Katie Vasquez

Krystyna Naprawa was a mother, a grandmother, a parishioner at St. Helen Church in Howard Beach, and a beloved crossing guard for more than a decade.

At the same spot where she safely shepherded kids to school, her own life was lost, a life that was remembered by those who knew her best.

From police to parents to the people who loved her most, dozens came to light a candle and say goodbye to Naprawa.

Her daughter, son and other family are too grief-stricken to speak, except to say they will miss her, and she’s their angel.

Naprawa spent 13 years at the corner of Woodhaven Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue, helping kids get to school.

It was while she was doing that job, helping five people cross the street, when the NYPD says a driver in a dump truck hit her.

She was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver received a desk appearance ticket for failing to yield to a pedestrian and failure to use due care.

In the wake of her tragic passing, this community and the kids who knew her best are choosing to remember her warm smile and positive attitude.

“She would wave to me ‘hi’ and I always tell her at the end of the day when I usually come home, I would tell her ‘Oh, see you tomorrow,’ every single day,” said MS 210 student, April Aparicio. “I always see her replying to me, brightening up for a smile every single day. She was always positive to me.”

“Every day we would have a conversation, she would ask me how I am, what’s going on in the community, how’s the weather just said, simple interaction was important to me, you know that there was someone in the community that cares,” said former student, Daniel Hill.

Naprawa’s funeral is on Oct. 26 at her home parish of St. Helen’s. Elected officials have vowed to make this intersection safer for the community.

New York City’s Department of Transportation is reporting the number of pedestrian fatalities dropped in 2022 from the year before.

In 2022, the city registered 118 pedestrian deaths, down from 126 in 2021. 

That number is an even further drop from the death toll in 2013, the year before the implementation of the city’s “Vision Zero” initiative. 

That year there were 184 deaths reported.

Breaking down those deaths by borough, the DOT actually noted Brooklyn and Queens saw the highest percentage of  pedestrian fatalities in the city between the years of 2017 and 2021.  

Brooklyn registered at 34%, followed by Queens with 28%, Manhattan at 19%, the Bronx at 14%, and Staten Island at 5%.