Then you get a call and you find out that it was someone from your community. And then you learn where the victim lived and went to school and you realize that you know many of his friends and neighbors.
I did not know Roman Pirozek, Jr., the young man who died in a tragic accident while flying a remote-controlled helicopter, but know many people who knew and loved him. On the pages of Facebook, one friend after another reacted with shock and dismay in the hours after the accident that claimed the young man’s life.
Schoolmates, friends, neighbors. They all struggled to make sense of how a man could be taken so quickly, and so young.
Ultimately there is no making sense out of any of it, but you do what you can in order to deal with it. I’m reminded of the tragic events of nearly twenty years ago that claimed the life of another man who died doing what he loved most.
Jimmy Young – who was, like Roman, a graduate of St. Thomas the Apostle – was killed along with two other firemen fighting a blaze in lower Manhattan.
Like Jimmy, Roman was a good kid who didn’t get into any trouble, who found a passion for something unique and excelled at it. And like Jimmy Young, Roman Pirozek, Jr. died doing what he loved doing best.
It was estimated that ten thousand firefighters packed the streets of Woodhaven for Jimmy Young’s funeral. Everyone you spoke to either knew Jimmy Young or knew someone who knew him. And they all had kind words to share about him, and fond memories.
The same is true for young Roman. Speak to his friends and neighbors and you’ll hear about a bright, energetic young man with a passion for life; a good young man with a loving, caring family and a bright future ahead of him.
It’s what makes it all the more painful for those who knew him.
As for our community, we are terribly saddened by the loss of someone so young and gifted. Our future depends on the young people of this community, and is strengthened by the energy and hope embodied by the youth of Woodhaven.
Even if you did not know this young man, know that his passing hurts the entire community of Woodhaven as there is one less bright light in our future.
On behalf of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association, we offer our deepest condolences to the Pirozek family. We cannot comprehend the pain you are feeling, but we know that you are being comforted by your many good friends and neighbors who loved Roman.
Know that they speak of him with love and that he will be remembered and live on in their memories forever. Know that their lives, and the lives of everyone that Roman touched, was changed forever not by the way that he died, but by the way that he lived.