By Laura Latzko
Julie Tsang was smiling with friends last week in their graduation gowns as she took the first step toward her dream of becoming a nurse. Tsang was killed sunday at 4 a.m., when she and friend Kevin Chang were hit by a pickup truck while they were sitting in Chang’s Honda Civic on 65th St. and Park Ave.
Police say the driver, Robert Gomez, 22, of Garfield, N.J., was drunk and he was charged with criminally negligent homicide, driving while intoxicated and with a suspended license.
Tsang, 17, died at the scene, and Chang, 21, an intern at Goldman Sachs, is listed in critical condition at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.
Tsang, who lived in Chinatown with her parents and 20-year-old brother, planned to attend Hunter College this September. She graduated from Millennium High School in Lower Manhattan last Thursday.
Millennium’s principal, Robert Rhodes, said she had a 90 average and was on the honor role every semester. He said that Tsang was a well-rounded student who took chemistry, advanced biology, pre-calculus, American literature, and graphic design.
“I wish she had left 20 seconds earlier or 20 seconds later,” Rhodes said. “She lived an incredible and full life while she was alive, but she had a lot more to do.”
Tsang also volunteered with Tzu Chi, a nonprofit organization that helps victims of war and natural disasters and participated in the New York AIDS Walk and Light the Night Walk, which benefits the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Her friends remember Tsang as an outgoing girl who made them laugh. Cheng Liu, who attended M.S. 131 and Millennium with her, said that she was a hard worker, in and out of school. He said that she worked after school at a lawyer’s office and although she wasn’t in any organized sports, she played handball and basketball.
“She was really excited to go to college,” Liu said. “She really wanted to be a nurse.”
At lunch in high school, he would sit with Tsang, and they would talk about what they were going to do that day, and she would share candy with him.
“She was always there for everyone,” Liu said. “She had a lot of friends inside and outside of school.”
Another of her friends, Georgia Stuart, had Spanish with Tsang for three years. She said that Tsang was close to everyone in the class.
Stuart said that she never saw Tsang with anything but a smile on her face. She admired Tsang because she would speak Spanish in class when others were afraid to.
“She always tried, always gave 100 percent,” Stuart said. “She never held back like some of us did. She was the best student in class in terms of effort.”
The school planned a remembrance ceremony on the 12th floor of the school from 5 to 6 p.m. as well as a vigil for Tsang for Wednesday, July 2, from 6 to 7 p.m., at the spot where the accident occurred.
Millennium High School is also establishing a fund for Tsang’s family and a scholarship in her memory. Donations should be made out to Millennium High School and should be sent to the school at 75 Broad St.13th floor, New York, N.Y., 10004, to the attention of Angela Benfield, the school’s parent coordinator.
Rhodes asks that those donating indicate, on the check, whether they are giving to the family or the scholarship fund.
The school has been unable to get in touch with Tsang’s family. Principal Rhodes said that he had heard the family is making arrangements for a private funeral.