Mom of Hit-And-Run Victim Erika Strebel: 'She Will Be Eternally Missed'

Funeral services for young mother Erika Strebel begin on Wednesday.

Erika Strebel (right) and her friend Elayna Jespersen, in happier times. Photo Credit: Elayna Jespersen
Erika Strebel (right) and her friend Elayna Jespersen, in happier times. Photo Credit: Elayna Jespersen
Two days after her daughter was killed in an Eastport hit-and-run Sunday, Erika Strebel's mother Maureen has spoken out about the tragedy.

"We hope that you can all understand that this is a very tragic, emotional and sad moment for the Strebel and Barton families. We have lost our daughter, Erika, a very loving and beautiful young mother. She will be eternally missed."

Of Strebel's companion, who was injured in the accident, Maureen Strebel wrote, "Eddie Barton is a wonderful young man. He is in stable condition but still has a long road of recovery ahead of him."

Maureen Strebel and her husband Leo said they wanted to thank friends and loved ones for their kind wishes and offers of assistance.

"This has meant a lot to our families. We also thank the first responders for their professional response and everybody who stopped to help Erika and Eddie that night," she said.

Strebel also asked the media to respect the family's privacy "during this extremely difficult and emotional time."

And she asked that anyone with information reach out to the Suffolk County Police Department and Crime Stoppers.

As friends and loved ones continue to mourn Strebel, a young mother who was struck down by a hit-and-run driver in Eastport on Sunday, heartbroken messages continue to pour in to a Facebook page set up in her memory.

"Erika's not the type of person that can be summed up in a quote," her friend, Elayna Jespersen, told Patch; Jesperson set up the Facebook page. "She was a woman deserving of a million words. She was vibrant, she was always there when you needed her, and she always made sure she said 'I love you'. There is an ache in our hearts and a void that can never be filled now that she's gone. No one can brighten a room with a simple smile like she could, no one could say 'Oh my God, I know, right!' like she could, and no one could suck down Pepsi like she could.

"She was a beautiful person with an opinion and when she was in a mood, an attitude like no other. At our small vigil, her closest friends joined in sharing funny stories we had of her, many, many tears, memories of days long since passed, and wishes for the days ahead as we all try to help each other heal. She was extremely known and very much loved. As odd as it may sound, I can't think of ways to describe her. It's just a feeling of joy as silliness when I think of her. She's at peace now," Jespersen said.

Strebel, 27, who lived in Eastport, was killed and a man was injured during a hit-and-run accident in Eastport.

Strebel and Barton were standing near Strebel’s disabled 1988 Jeep on the shoulder of the eastbound lane when they were struck by a vehicle that was traveling east on Montauk Highway, according to police.

The vehicle, which police said would have sustained front end damage, fled east on Montauk Highway. According to a police spokeswoman, the vehicle that hit them was believed to be large, like a sport utility vehicle or a pickup truck, and possibly metallic blue.

After the tragedy, friends turned to the Facebook page to remember the young woman who touched their lives — and to express sorrow for the little boy she left behind.

"I am so sorry for Erica and her child. I will keep her family and child in my prayers. This is so, so sad," one friend wrote.

"I can't stop thinking about you and all the memories we shared and crazy ideas we had. I miss you so much, I hope you know how much I love you," another said.

"God bless you, beautiful angel. We will come together to raise your son for you. God is now blessed with your beauty and sweetness," one mourner said.

Added another, "My heart aches for her baby boy. No child should have to endure this."

Other friends remembered seeing the young woman at Stebel's Laundry in Westhampton.

Karma Marshall, older sister of Strebel's friend, Elayna Jespersen, said she had known her since they were children.

"She was the best friend anyone could have. She was always there, from the times I played with her older sisters Tammy and Laura. My little sister Elayna Jespersen and Erika have been best friends their whole lives; now we all have kids of our own. Erika had the biggest heart anyone could hold in their body. She was always there."

She added, "I'll always remember when we would go to the annual Eastport Fireman's barbecue and a bunch of us wanted our faces painted, so five of us got something painted on our cheeks — but not Erika, she wanted her whole face painted and she picked out this crazy, colorful skeleton. We all didn't believe her when she said she would do it. But she did, and it was the best time! We always laughed and remembered back when we were kids. She was a very spontaneous person. She will truly be missed! Her son Ayden (a.k.a. AJ) will always play with my sister's son and my son, and we will always make sure he has the same love, if not more, just like his mother did for him."

Visitation will be held for Strebel at Sinnickson's Moriches Funeral Home, located at 203 Main Street in Center Moriches, on Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m. and on Thursday, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. A service will be held at St. Isidore's RC Church in Riverhead on Friday at 11 a.m. She will be laid to rest at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Center Moriches.

Friends gathered Monday night at the scene of the horrific accident, to place a cross where Strebel was killed.

Detectives from the Suffolk County Police Vehicular Crime Unit are investigating the crash that occurred on Montauk Highway, near Old Montauk Highway, at about 9:05 p.m.

Strebel was taken by East Moriches Ambulance to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead where she was pronounced dead. Barton, 26, of East Moriches, was transported by Suffolk County Police helicopter to Stony Brook University Hospital where he is being treated for head and knee injuries, according to police.

"Erika and my daughter, Courtney Amos were best friends in Eastport from an early age," wrote Dianna Andres. "Erika's family lived behind us on South Bay Avenue. We loved her as one of our own. Our hearts are broken and we grieve for Erika and her family and friends. We wish we could be there, but we live in Florida," Dianna and her husband Paul said. "She always called me her 'second Mom.' She was a very loving person." 

Detectives have asked that anyone with information about the accident call the Vehicular Crime Unit at 631-852-6555 or call anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.

Do you have memories of Erika Strebel that you'd like to share, or a message you'd like to send to her friends and loved ones? Share your thoughts with Patch here in the comments section. Our hearts go out to her loved ones, and to her son.


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