RICHMOND HILL — The cyclist killed by a hit-and-run driver while riding home from his shift at a popular pizzeria was remembered at his funeral Thursday night as a "friendship maker" and a loving pupil who was planning to get married in just a few weeks.
Friends and family gathered to mourn Neftaly Ramirez, 27, who was slated to soon marry his sweetheart of eight years, at the Leahy-McDonald Funeral Home at 111-02 Atlantic Ave. in Richmond Hill.
"He was kind and giving. All he wanted was to give love and get it back," said Michelle Chin-Savinon, 39, a guidance counselor at the Manhattan Occupational Training Center, who first met Ramirez at 13 and worked with him on and off during the roughly seven years he spent at the school.
"He was a friendship maker."
Chin-Savinon ran into Ramirez several months back inside the food court at the Palisades Center Mall upstate, where he was dining with his fiancé, Elysania Ureña. They exchanged numbers and discussed how Ramirez was hunting for jobs before Chin-Savinon had connected him with some of her colleagues about job training.
"He just wanted to be an adult and take care of his fiancée," she said. "I wish I had more students like him."
While police have identified the garbage truck involved in the fatal July 22 collision as a vehicle registered to Action Carting in New Jersey, no one had been arrested as of Friday morning, nearly a week after the crash, police confirmed. The driver hit Ramirez while turning right on Noble Street from Franklin Street as he rode south on Franklin, police said.
Ramirez lived his whole life in the East Village and was a resident of the Lilian Wald Houses, where he was one of seven children, the son of immigrants from the Dominican Republic. He loved biking, skateboarding and playing video games, his favorite of which was the action role-playing game Kingdom Hearts. He dreamed of designing his own game one day, according to his obituary.
He had worked at the popular pizza spot Paulie Gee's in Greenpoint and was recently promoted from dishwasher to bar back after about a year of hard work.
Ramirez was a voracious eater, fond of bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches, pizza, white rice and spaghetti with salami, according to a biography provided at the service, which specified, "he ate everything EXCEPT mayonnaise and chicken on bones."
Members of his extended family agreed that Ramirez had an impressive appetite.
"He ate the most plates," at any family gathering, said George Alvarez, 30, a cousin of Ramirez's fiancée.
After eight years of dating, Ramirez and his fiancée were slated to be married in a few weeks and were planning to save up money and move out of the New York City together.
"He and my cousin were trying to get their own place, start their own family," Alvarez said. "There's really no explaining how devastated she feels."
Members of Ramirez's immediate family declined to comment.
Politicians have demanded that the driver involved Ramirez' death, as well as the hit-and-run driver who fatally struck 18-year-old skateboarder Alejandro Tello in Gravesend, turn themselves in to police.