The last time Gary Falkowitz saw his son Ethan Falkowitz was a day he called one of the happiest for his son. Which would also turn out to be his last.
Ethan Falkowitz’s brother was going to watch him play tennis for the first time.
The rival school had not arrived yet when Gary and Landon Falkowitz showed up at the courts, so his brother only had time to say good luck before Ethan Falkowitz’s match.
Landon Falkowitz repeated it multiple times to make sure his brother heard before his match.
“I remember the moment as if it was just a minute ago,” the boy’s father said.
Gary Falkowitz returned without his youngest son and watched Ethan battle in a doubles match. He and his partner had lost the first set but fought to win the second and finally the third.
He said his son couldn’t have been more excited as he was cheered on by his teammates.
Gary Falkowitz said he wouldn’t dare wait for his son by the courts so as not to embarrass him after his match, so he waited in the parking lot to congratulate him.
When he saw his son, he yelled for him. Ethan returned with a smile and motioned that he was going to go with his team to celebrate at dinner.
“That was the last time I saw our beautiful boy,” Gary Falkowitz said. “He celebrated with his team and he was hanging out in a restaurant like a winning team should. What an amazing thing for him.”
Thousands of people gathered at Temple Sinai of Roslyn Friday to mourn and honor the life of Ethan Falkowitz, a Roslyn Middle School student and rising local tennis star killed when a car driven by an allegedly drunk driver traveling on the wrong side of the road crashed into a car driven by a friend.
Ethan Falkowitz and Drew Hassenbein, both 14, were killed in the accident.
“Ethan was killed by a drunk driver, but we refuse to let his legacy be a statistic,” Gary Falkowitz said.
The two boys were in the car with teammates and Roslyn High School students Zach Sheena and Ethan Solop, on their way back from a dinner celebrating a victory over Syosset High School, according to multiple reports.
Sheena and Solop were reportedly in the hospital in stable condition with internal injuries, according to officials.
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, first-degree vehicular manslaughter, second-degree 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 with a large crowd of people angry with the death of the two boys held without bail.
Rabbi Michael White referred to Ethan Falkowitz’s death as “senseless” and an “injustice” during his funeral service.
“We want answers,” White said. “We want justice. And it can be frustrating because the truth here is that human beings are mortal and fragile, that people make evil choices like drinking and driving and we are left to suffer the unbearable consequences.”
Every single seat at the funeral service was taken with hundreds of people standing in any available space in the room.
The air was filled with tears and laughter as stories were shared about the young boy.
The two boys’ lives touched many in the community as people memorialize them in the wake of their deaths.
Numerous family members spoke at Ethan’s funeral, as well as his bunkmates of six years from Tyler Hill Camp who referred to him as “Falkie.”
Ethan Falkowitz was remembered as a uniquely caring young boy who was confident and determined to achieve anything he set his mind to. He had a thirst for knowledge and was musically and athletically skilled.
Family members said he had a unique and special bond with everyone he met – apparent in the large attendance at his funeral. The room was filled with people whose lives he had touched.
They said Ethan Falkowitz had a contagious smile and an infectious personality that enriched his family members’ lives.
They said Ethan Falkowitz an old soul and his family said that in just his 14 years of life, he accomplished so much more than many do in a lifetime.
“Although Ethan lived a short life, and my heart is broken… his book may be short but the achievements, the honors and the accolades that they wrote in his short book are written in gold stone, never to be forgotten for a young man that I believe would have volumes written about him if he had lived a full life,” grandfather Bob Nissen said.
Ethan Falkowitz’s younger brother Landon Falkowitz said that he will always remember his big brother and all the moments he took to teach him tennis and help him through difficult situations.
He said he was devastated his big brother had to leave him so early.
“I will always be talking to you every day through my heart,” Landon Falkowitz said.
Gary Falkowitz said that he and his family are “speechless” at the immense support they have received in the wake of their son’s death from friends, community members and apparent strangers. He asked that people continue sharing the stories of his son with him and his family.
“His legacy must be made up of these stories,” Gary Falkowitz said.
Ethan Falkowitz was buried at Beth David Cemetary in Elmont following the funeral service. The family will be hosting a shiva Saturday through Monday.
Hassenbein’s funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday at Temple Beth Sholom in Roslyn.