MORRISANIA, The Bronx (PIX11) — The day after she was killed in a fiery crash that shut down one of the busiest roadways in the country, Shelly Vilsaint was being honored as a devoted teacher, coach, and member of communities in New York and New Jersey.
Vilsaint, 49, was a special education teacher at Frederick Douglass III Academy here.
New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks released a statement on Wednesday morning about the Department of Education employee:
My thoughts are with Ms. Vilsaint’s loved ones, and I grieve this devastating loss alongside the entire school community. To support our students, families, and staff through this loss, we are working to immediately provide intensive additional supports to the community, which includes school-based social workers, guidance counselors, and on-site mental health clinics.
Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson also paid tribute in a statement on Twitter:
Shelly Vilsaint was a beloved special education teacher in our Borough who was dedicated to her students. She coached the female’s basketball team and was loved by all. We are devastated and offer our condolences & prayers to her family & school community.
Vilsaint lived in Bayonne, New Jersey.
She died in the early morning hours on Tuesday when her car was crushed between two tractor-trailers on the Cross Bronx Expressway and burst into flames, according to authorities.
The fatal chain-reaction crash happened at 12:34 a.m., when Vilsaint rear-ended a tractor-trailer with her 2019 Range Rover, according to the NYPD.
While the two vehicles were stopped, according to officials, another tractor-trailer slammed into Vilsaint’s SUV from behind, overturning the car and partially pushing it into the tractor-trailer.
The three-vehicle collision near the University Avenue overpass initially left all expressway lanes closed in both directions near the scene, impacting traffic all day long, from the Tuesday morning commute to the Tuesday evening rush.
Work crews couldn’t remove the wreckage from the crash until 12 hours after the three-vehicle collision.
The drivers of the two tractor-trailers survived the crashes without injury.
The investigation of the collisions is still under investigation.