QUEENS — Thursday was supposed to be a step forward for Alexander Ciszewski after a series of family setbacks.
It was his first day of class at LaGuardia Community College where he was following his older brother, studying criminal justice, his mother Lisa Ciszewski said. He was still overcome with the grief of seeing his uncle buried the day before, and his father had died five years earlier, she said.
The young man had just finished his first class just before lunchtime and was skateboarding back to his Sunnyside apartment that he shared with his mother, she said.
He tried to hitch a ride up the hill on 47th Avenue toward 33rd Street on a white 2005 GMC cube truck, she explained.
But the joyride turned tragic when the driver accelerated, witnesses said, causing the teenager to lose his balance and fall under the truck's rear wheels, crushing him to death. Police are still looking for the driver of the truck, who drove away. It is unclear if the driver knew there was an accident, police said.
"He was a smart and funny and sensitive kid," his mother said tearfully. "It was his first class of his first semester. He had a break between classes. He should have been home."
She said that he had graduated from the Academy of Finance and Enterprise last year where his 15-year-old sister still goes.
"He was a good student, but he didn't know what he wanted to do," Lisa Ciszewski said. His 23-year-old brother had become a role model since his father died, so he decided to pursue the same course of study.
"He looked up to him," she said.
A memorial service will be held for the young man at the Edward D. Lynch Funeral Home on Queens Boulevard on Monday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
On Friday, the college was offering counseling to students who knew him.
"We're saddened to learn that one of our students, Alexander Ciszewski, was killed yesterday afternoon in a tragic accident," spokeswoman Randy Fader-Smith said in a statement. "The student's promising future and our entire community will suffer as a result of this loss. We extend our sincerest sympathies to the student's family during this difficult time."