BRIARWOOD — The cousin of 65-year-old Pelagia Zingatan, who was struck and killed by a taxi in the Upper East Side Monday afternoon, plans to bring her ashes to the Philippines so she can rest in peace at the family church.
Feliz Araneta, 72, described her cousin, who worked at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center as an administrator, as a very "loving and kind person" who would mail money, medicine and presents back to her eight siblings still living in her home country.
"I have to be brave," said the grieving Araneta, who also worked in the health care field as a nurse and has lived with her cousin since 1970. "I have to do everything [by myself] now."
Araneta just celebrated her birthday on Saturday after the two returned to their Queens home from a trip to San Diego where they visited Zingatan's sister.
"They were having a good time," she said. "I didn't realize it would be the last time."
Araneta said her family in the Philippines was having trouble coming to grips with the loss.
Zingatan's brother "was crying and yelling," after being told of her death, Araneta said.
The minivan cab was heading westbound on East 69th Street when it struck Zingatan at the corner of First Avenue, dragging her body to the other side of the intersection.
Police initially said they did not suspect any criminality, but were unsure whether the cab was speeding.
Araneta said she and her cousin had not started her own family, in order to focus on helping their large family.
"I keep telling her, 'Just guide me,'" she said, "so I can do the best I can."