Mom killed, daughter remains hospitalized after being struck by car

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LINDENHURST -

A Lindenhurst mom pushed her teen daughter to safety before being crushed to death under a car on Wellwood Avenue on Mother's Day, police say.

Diane Aluska, 55, had just left church with her 16-year-old daughter, Jenna, before a Toyota Corolla slammed into them.

Police say fellow Lindenhurst resident Ann Riolo, the 80-year-old driver, backed into them after failing to put her car in drive. She was backing out of a diagonal parking space. 

After striking the mother and daughter, she continued onward in reverse until she crashed into the Lindenhurst Fire House.

The victims were rushed to Good Samaritan Hospital, where Aluska was pronounced dead. Her daughter remains hospitalized with injuries not considered life-threatening. Riolo was treated and released.

Police say Riolo thought she had put the car in drive, but it was still in reverse when she hit the gas and started speeding backward and jumped the curb.

As the car rumbled toward them, police say Aluska pushed her daughter to safety before becoming pinned under the vehicle.

"From what we see, I have no doubt that she saved her daughter's life," says Detective Sgt. James Murphy, of the Suffolk Police Department.

Authorities say they don't expect to file criminal charges.

Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer says Aluska worked in the town clerk's office for over 10 years.

"She could calm anybody down when they came in, whether they were confused or upset or happy," he says.

Kenny Aluska, the husband of one victim and father to the other, says he's not surprised his wife's final act was one of selflessness to save their daughter.

"It was a beautiful thing she did," he says. "She was an amazing woman."

Aluska says he was planting Mother's Day flowers at the family's Lindenhurst home when he heard about the accident.

"My daughter texted me while she was on the ground," he says. "She was able to reach for her phone in her pocket, and she said on the message, it said, 'help.' I went there as fast as I could. I went through the police barricade, and she screamed for me."

The younger Aluska underwent surgeries for back injuries and, her father says, she also suffered a broken heart.

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