On May 18, Alyssa Elsman and her 13-year-old sister, Ava, were visiting New York City with their mom when they decided to take a walk around Times Square. According to WWMT, it was the first day of their vacation.
Eighteen-year-old Alyssa wanted to capture a video in the heart of Times Square:
No one had a clue that video would capture the last few moments of her life.
Some time after posting the video to her Instagram account, a local 26-year-old ex-military man who was high on synthetic marijuana drove his maroon Honda Accord three-and-a-half blocks through Times Square, mowing down anyone in his path.
Asa Lowe, who witnessed the horror, told the New York Daily News:
“He’s just mowing down people. He didn’t stop. He just kept going.”
The man, Richard Rojas, injured over 20 people, including Ava Elsman. Alyssa was killed.
Alyssa’s boyfriend, Trevor West, told the New York Post that when she didn’t reply back to him right away, he knew something was very wrong:
“She would always text me back as quick as she could and when I didn’t hear from her or her friend I knew something horrible happened. I knew something was wrong.”
West described Alyssa as his motivator, someone who gave him everything that he couldn’t give himself.
He said she was all he ever needed:
“She […] loved me […] and now that she’s gone I don’t know how I’m going to fill that void. I don’t know how I’m going to function without her ever again.”
Alyssa’s mom was with Alyssa in her last moments. According to Alyssa’s father, Thomas Elsman, his ex-wife watched as their firstborn daughter passed away.
“She saw our daughter die and I would give anything in my life to take that away from her. She watched our baby die in front of her.”
The distraught father got personal in the open letter he posted at a makeshift memorial that was resurrected in her honor.
According to the New York Daily News, the note reads, in part:
“Alyssa loved this city, she loved Times Square. She would appreciate all of your kind words, but she would also tell us all to get back and continue. That’s how full of life my daughter was. […]
This impromptu memorial dedicated to our daughter and seeing and talking to you many of you has helped me cope with our loss. […]
I look at myself and will never understand how I could ever have made such an angel… I’m glad you got your mothers looks. […] I always have the answers… But I am blank… I have a hole in my heart that can never be filled. My world changed when you came into it and it is unexplainable with you leaving it. I love you kid, there are no words. I love you, I love you, I love you.”
He signed the note, “Dad.”
Alyssa’s 83-year-old great-grandmother, Clara May Jablonski, told the New York Times that “nothing is safe anymore”:
“It makes you want to stay home and hibernate. Nothing is safe anymore, I’ve come to the conclusion. We’ve had a lot of loss in the family, and to have them go so young is unreal.”
According to Thomas, Ava suffered a broken leg, a fractured pelvis, as well as a collapsed lung. He wrote on Facebook that she was doing OK.