Days after Jeffrey Ahn, 17, died after being , his family is struggling to make sense of the tragedy.
“This is the worst thing that will ever happen to us,” Jeffrey’s older sister, Presca Ahn said Tuesday. “My parents are not doing well.”
Her voice breaking with tears, Presca said her father, Dr. Jeffrey Ahn, mother Priscilla, and she find comfort in remembering Jeffrey’s many accomplishments and celebrating his life.
“He was really a good guy,” Presca said. “He had such a big heart.” Her brother, she said, was always helping friends who might be sick, or in trouble. “He was constantly putting other people before himself.”
Since he was a little boy, Jeffrey, she said, was artistic and creative, doodling and drawing. As he got older, he found a passion for figurative drawing and embraced Renaissance artists and American painters including Edward Hopper. He also loved “building weird machines,” and cartoons.
Jeffrey, his sister said, died when his future was bright. “It really was the happiest time of his life," she said. He’d just finished his junior year at the Trinity School in New York with straight As, had been chosen as the president of the Storyteller’s Club — a group dedicated to telling and performing true stories -- and was manager of the wrestling team.
Jeffrey was happy to be spending time in the Hamptons with his girlfriend Penelope Farris, another rising senior at Trinity whom Presca said her brother had a loving relationship, and two lifelong best friends after an adventure at Coney Island earlier that week. The group was walking home, single file on Old Stone Highway, when the accident occurred.
Presca said it is believed the driver “clipped” Jeffrey’s girlfriend first, before hitting her brother. Although , she said some details are emerging. “It happened so quickly,” she said. “We are pretty sure that he died instantly and it was painless.”
No matter what happens to the taxi driver who was driving the Lindy’s vehicle — so far, no charges have been filed — Presca said her family plans to begin a campaign to call for safer conditions and widening of Old Stone Highway in Amagansett, which she said are “horrific.” The family has a house on Arbor Path. Presca said she always felt conditions were dangerous and some motorists drive too fast on the narrow road.
A budding scientist, Jeffrey had plans this summer to work for the second time doing stem cell research at Columbia. In the future, her brother hoped to volunteer at Cornell, cheering patients who were awaiting clinical trials. “I imagined him doing all these things,” Presca said. “I was really looking forward to seeing what he made of his life.”
Since news of his death broke, fellow students at Trinity and friends have come forward with an outpouring of love and support, including a memorial at the school. Jeffrey, who wore his school colors proudly, was thrilled to attend the New York City prep school. “I can’t tell you how much he loved that place,” Presca said.
As a little boy, Jeffrey was “always goofing around,” hiding in suitcases or under tables, and dancing or playing music. He also loved acting and performed in “Pirates of Penzance” and other productions at Saint David’s School and shows at Trinity. “He was always so funny,” Presca said. Her brother loved music and a boom box was often playing loudly in his room.
But, some of the Ahn family’s most joyful memories were made when they headed out to their Hamptons home in Amagansett. “We all loved it so much there,” she said. “Jeffrey loved biking, going to the beach. Until recently, he’d go to with a yellow shovel that had a wooden handle and spend three to four hours digging these massive holes.” Other kids, she said, would come and ask to join in — and Jeffrey always agreed. “He made friends that way,” she said.
Presca, who lives in England, said she will be forever grateful that she came home to Amagansett on an impromptu weekend recently, where she spent time playing tennis with him. “I got to see him one last time.”