20 THE QUEENS COURIER • SEPTEMBER 27, 2018 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Woman who fatally struck Whitestone teen surrenders
license, agrees to sign senior driving reform petition
BY EMILY DAVENPORT
email@example.com / @QNS
A senior woman who fatally struck
a Whitestone teen aft er running a red
light avoided jail time but will surrender
her license, prosecutors announced on
Sheila Kahn-Prager, 88, pleaded guilty
to second-degree reckless endangerment
Bruce Friedman, a champion of LGBT rights in Queens, dies
BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELLDOMENECH
Bruce Friedman made American history
come alive every week with his lively
seminars at the Queens Center for
Gay Seniors. But his voice is now forever
stilled; Friedman, one of Queens’ most
prolifi c LGBT activist, died on Sept. 24
aft er a long battle with leukemia.
“He was such a light here,” said the
center director, Chynna Pitlock, who in
the four years she worked with Friedman
always looked forward to seeing Friedman
buzzing around the center and putting
smiles on people’s faces.
Despite his illness, in addition to teaching
his wildly popular weekly American
history seminars at the center, he also
worked tirelessly to organize social
events, raise money, address general concerns
and recruit new members.
Pitlock spent the entire night aft er
receiving news of Friedman’s passing
calling members to let them know personally.
“Th eir friends become their family,”
said Pitlock about the LGBT community.
“Th at was a big part of the center because
it was his family.”
Friedman’s history of working
to serve others dates back
to the ’70s when he became
very involved in the LGBT
synagogue of New York,
Simchat Torah (CBST)
where he was introduced
to members by
a college friend. He
was elected in 1976
to the board of trustees
and served on the
board for 14 years aft er
being re-elected seven
times. He built many lifelong
friendships at CBST.
Friedman was also a former
president of the Lesbian and
Gay Democratic Club of
Queens and served in an
elected position at the
clubs since the late
of the Lesbian
and Gay Democratic
Club of Queens was
Dromm, who founded
the club 25 years
ago in order to give
the LGBT community
a voice in the
sphere. Dromm faced
discrimination as an
openly gay teacher before being inspired
to enter the world of politics.
Friedman worked to better the lives
of the LGBT community in an era
when homophobia was still rampant
and doing anything in the LGBT community
was a statement, and one that
could potentially lead to negative consequences.
“In 1980, going to a pride parade
meant you could be fi red,” said Larry
Menzie, who worked as a executive vice
president under Friedman at the Lesbian
and Gay Democratic Club. “Th ere was
risk associated with that and he was willing
to take those risks.
According to Menzie, when Friedman
moved to Queens in 1984 he was interested
in not only working for LGBT
rights but working toward solving issues
in the Queens community as a whole.
He was always willing to speak up and
always willing to speak out but willing
to hear other people’s views.
He was interested in Queens issues
and in showing how the LGBT communities’
issues aff ected the borough
as a whole.
“His strength and spirit will
be sorely missed by LGBT and
non-LGBT people alike,”
Photo courtesy of
before the Queens Criminal Court.
She was granted a conditional discharge,
meaning that if she is re-arrested within a
year, she faces one year incarceration.
As a part of the discharge, Kahn-Prager
also agreed to surrender her license and
sign a petition urging the Department
of Motor Vehicles to require retesting of
At 10:30 a.m. on June 25, Kahn-Prager
was driving toward the intersection of
Utopia Parkway and 16th Avenue when
she ignored a red light and hit 17-yearold
Madeline Sershen, who was crossing
Utopia Parkway with the walk light in
According to police, Sershen was hit by
the front bumper and fl ew onto the hood
of the car, striking the windshield. EMS
responded to the scene and rush Sershen
to NewYork-Presbyterian Queens hospital,
where she was pronounced dead.
Kahn-Prager was initially taken into
custody at the scene and issued a desk
appearance ticket for failing to yield to a
pedestrian, running a red light and failure
to exercise due care.
Following Sershen’s death, an online
petition was started by residents to urge
the New York State Department of Motor
Vehicles to mandate that all drivers 80
years old and over are retested every two
years to ensure they are capable of driving
safely on city streets. Th e petition has since
received over 20,000 signatures.
On July 30, members of Sershen’s family
and the community rallied in Whitestone calling
for senior driver reform from the DMV.
“Th is was an extremely sad and tragic
case. Th e victim was a promising young
lady who would be in her fi nal year of
high school, if she were alive today,” said
District Attorney Richard A. Brown.
“Madeline Sershen was walking within
the white lines of the crosswalk and with
the green light when she was hit and fatally
injured. Th e defendant at the time of
her arrest said she didn’t see the steady red
light nor the youngster crossing the street.
Th e 88-year-old has pleaded guilty and
today promised the court she would give
up her license and help Sershen’s family
require retesting of elderly drivers to prevent
Photos via Facebook