Navy midshipman Justin Zemser, killed in Amtrak derailment, mourned by Queens community

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ROCKAWAY BEACH, Queens (PIX11) -- Justin Zemser, a midshipman at the Naval Academy was finishing up his second year at Annapolis, and on his way home on leave, when Amtrak train 188 derailed in Port Richmond Tuesday night.  Zemser was one of at least 7 killed in the accident.

“He was wonderful, he was absolutely wonderful.  Everyone looked up to my son.  I don’t know what else there is I can say.”

Susan Zemser fought back tears as she remembered her only child Justin Wednesday afternoon. Picture after picture on the mother’s Facebook page show just how proud she was of her son. The 20-year-old was just finishing up his second year as a midshipman at the Naval Academy and was coming home to Rockaway Queens when Amtrak 188 derailed Tuesday night.

“He was supposed to come home at 10:30 last night," said the mother.  "And when I went online to see if it was on time it said there was a derailment and it was all plastered on TV.”

By all accounts the Rockaway native was an exemplary young man. He graduated from The Channel View School for Research as valedictorian and went on to play football at the Naval Academy.

Justin’s former teacher, now Assistant Principal, Joe Featherston said Justin finished his first year in Annapolis with a 4.0 grade point average and dreamed of one day becoming a Navy Seal.

“That’s how I’ll remember him: that he was just a simple guy, a humble guy, a helpful guy, but yet an inspiration to my students in here who needed to be directed in life," said Featherston.

Zemser was also a former intern for City Councilman Eric Ulrich who tweeted out this after learning about the tragic death:

“Justin was truly a bright, talented and patriotic young man.  He will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved him.”

The Naval Academy also sent out a message after learning of the death.  In that message they said they are supporting Justin’s family, friends, and loved ones during this time of grief.