AMHERST, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Authorities have released the name of the woman who was struck and killed by a school van in Amherst Wednesday morning.
The Northwestern District Attorney's office told Western Mass News that Eva Fenner, 88, of Amherst was hit while trying to cross the street in front of Crocker Farm Elementary.
We spoke with one of Fenner’s neighbors, who said Fenner treated her like a daughter. This neighbor noted that Eva - or Mariele as she knew her - was fiercely independent and no longer driving.
When she heard a pedestrian was hit, she had a sinking feeling.
"I saw the accident and the first thing that came to mind was 'I hope it’s not her,'" said Mina Bozorg.
Bozorg says Eva 'Mariele' Fenner was a fiercely independent widow despite being 88 years old.
"I guess she wasn’t driving for the past two years. She was using the bus," Bozorg added.
Bozorg said Mariele would walk to bus stops on West Street, but feared the woman wouldn't always be safe.
"She was somewhat slow crossing the street...very sad," Bozorg noted.
Other neighbors, who didn't want to go on-camera, told Western Mass News they feared the same thing.
Bozorg said the community lost a teacher, artist, and role model.
"She’s an amazing hard worker. She was always doing all her shoveling. She’s given me a Japanese maple that’s down there. We would exchange plants. She taught me about baking," Bozorg said.
Looking across the road will never feel the same.
"She was a great artist. musician. She drew a picture of our house many years ago. She drew that from the other side of the street," Bozorg added.
The crash is still under investigation.
The school van was carrying three students at the time. School officials said those families have been contacted as well and that counseling services are being made available.