Drew Hassenbein had four stuffed animals that he loved, his sister said at his funeral. A few days before his death, he had told his family that he wanted to be buried with all four of them.
Sydney Hassenbein said that now they will be buried alongside her 14-year-old brother and how she wishes she could be there with him, too.
Sobs and laughter were heard throughout the service as Drew was remembered at his funeral service Sunday morning.
He was remembered by family and friends as a charismatic teenager with a strong presence in every room he was in.
Drew Hassenbein was said to be an avid sports fan who cared about his fantasy football league and would rely on his father’s friends for advice in drafting his team. He loved the Mets and attending sports games. He would always treat his friends when they would go together.
Thousands of people gathered at Temple Beth Shalom in Roslyn to mourn and honor the life of Drew, a nationally acclaimed tennis star and Roslyn Middle School student killed when a car driven by an allegedly drunk driver traveling on the wrong side of the road crashed into the car he was riding in.
Drew was at one point the No. 1-ranked tennis player in the nation for the Boys 12 and Under division. He was already being scouted by nationally acclaimed college tennis programs, despite only being in eighth grade, according to reports.
Drew Hassenbein and fellow teammate Ethan Falkowitz, also 14, were killed in the accident. Both were Roslyn Middle School students playing on the Roslyn High School boys varsity tennis team.
“We will never understand why you were taken from us,” his mother, Jamie Hassenbein, said.
The two boys were in the car with Roslyn High School varsity tennis teammates and Roslyn High School students Zach Sheena, 17, and Ethan Solop, 16, on their way back from a dinner celebrating a match victory over Syosset High School, according to multiple reports.
Sheena and Solop were treated in a hospital for internal injuries and were in stable condition, the Nassau County Police said.
The driver of the Dodge Ram that struck their car, Roslyn resident Amandeep Singh, 34, was arrested and treated at a local hospital for minor injuries, according to police.
Singh was charged with multiple offenses, including aggravated vehicular homicide, vehicular manslaughter leaving the scene of an auto accident with a fatality, driving while intoxicated and two counts of second-degree assault.
Singh was arraigned Thursday at the Nassau County First District Court and was held without bail as a large crowd of people angry over the death of the two boys gathered outside the courtroom. He was scheduled to appear in court again Monday morning where the judge will assess his bail standing.
Sydney Hassenbein said she used to be a firm believer in the idea that everything happens for a reason, but her brother’s death had left her faltering in her beliefs.
She said that on the night of the crash, she and her family sat on the side of the road and prayed for two hours that her brother would survive.
“However, that selfish drunk driver wiped you out and he didn’t give your little body a chance,” Sydney Hassenbein said. “You didn’t even get a chance to fight because I know if you did get a chance to fight, you would still be with us right now.”
Drew was memorialized through multiple eulogies given at his funeral, all remembering the determined and driven young man he was.
Throughout the service, Drew’s personality became evident.
He was remembered as an energetic teenager with a strong will and an ability to persevere.
Drew’s maternal grandfather, Melvin Feuerstein, said that his grandson’s life was cut short yet he was still able to create so many memories and touch so many lives.
He said Drew had a competitive spirit and was fierce on the tennis court and in everything he did.
“Who knows how far you could have taken that,” Feuerstein said.
His father, Mitch Hassenbein, fondly remembered the 22 hours a week he would spend with his son, driving him to multiple practices and games and events. He called it his full-time job.
“Man, you were tough to work for, buddy,” Mitch Hassenbein jokingly said, as attendees laughed in response. “You were so demanding. Best job I ever had.”
Solop, one of the boys who survived the car crash and Drew’s injured teammate, was helped up to the temple’s stage wearing a leg brace to give a eulogy.
He called Drew his little brother who never had anything bad to say and whom he never argued with. Drew leaned on Solop for answers to any questions he had or advice he needed, as he believed in his teammate and trusted him.
Solop asked that Drew not be remembered solely as an excellent tennis player, but also as a passionate, driven and kind-hearted person.
“There was just no one better than him,” Solop said. “That’s the most simple way to put it.”
On top of being a nationally acclaimed tennis athlete at such a young age, he still managed to make time to play booster basketball. While many of his tennis coaches advised against it, his father said Drew didn’t care because it was the time he got to spend with his friends.
Numerous lifelong friends of Drew delivered a eulogy together, sharing fond memories of their departed friend and repeatedly saying “D Hass on top.”
Among the words they used to describe Drew, such as competitive and passionate and funny, they also expressed how it was an honor to be his friend.
Amid sobs, they ended their eulogy with a group hug to console one another.
Drew was described as a devoted friend and family member who loved everyone and made special, individual bonds with each of them.
Drew was a bright light, his aunt said, who will continue to live on through his family and the memories they have of him.
“My heart aches and is broken into a billion pieces,” Jamie Hassenbein said. “You were the world’s greatest son, brother, grandson, cousin and friend. You made everyone smile and laugh. Your future was so bright.”