Family and friends of the young Eastport mother who was killed in a hit-and-run accident on November 2 said they will remember her for her loving nature and “spitfire” personality.
Erika Strebel, 27, was also selfless and thoughtful, as well as adoring of her 5-year-old son, Ayden, her sister, Laura Marino, said on Tuesday. Her sister was always willing to help others and never hesitated to say, “I love you,” Ms. Marino added.
Ms. Strebel was standing near her Jeep, which had apparently run out of gas on Montauk Highway in her hometown, with Edward Barton, a relative, when an unknown vehicle struck them both and then fled, according to Suffolk County Police. Ms. Strebel was transported by ambulance to the Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead, where she was pronounced dead. Mr. Barton suffered serious injuries and was taken by helicopter to Stony Brook University Hospital, but has since been released.
The accident scene is just a short walk from the home of Ms. Strebel’s parents.
Though no arrests have been made, Ms. Marino said her family hopes that someone will come forward and take responsibility for the crime that took her younger sister’s life.
“I just hope that whoever did this to her finds it in their heart to do the right thing,” added Elayna Jespersen, Ms. Strebel’s lifelong friend. She added that she would ask the person responsible to “just apologize to that little boy,” referring to Ms. Strebel’s son.
Suffolk County Police officials said this week that they could not share any additional information about the ongoing investigation. Detectives are still asking anyone with information about the crash to call either the Suffolk County Vehicular Crime Unit at (631) 852-6555 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential, police said.
Ms. Strebel is survived by her son, Ayden Biamonte, and his father, Steve Biamonte; her parents, Maureen and Leo R. Strebel of Eastport; her grandfather, Leo B. Strebel of Eastport; her sister Tammy Barton and her husband, Dan Barton, and their daughter, Ava, who live in Mastic; and another sister, Laura Marino, and her husband, Richard Marino, and their three boys, Donovan, Gavin and Austin, of Eastport.
She was predeceased by her paternal grandmother, Gloria Strebel, and her maternal grandparents, Mary and Robert Chester.
A graduate of Eastport South Manor High School, Ms. Strebel loved Eastport, according to survivors; it was where she grew up and lived her entire life, Ms. Marino said. Ms. Strebel also loved to dance and as a girl took lessons in everything from ballet to hip-hop.
“We used to call her ‘Meatball’ because she used to have these curls and fat cheeks,” Ms. Marino recalled.
She noted that Ms. Strebel adored her nieces and nephews, and was looking forward to meeting her two new nieces in the future; both Ms. Marino and Ms. Barton, who are twins, are pregnant.
“She was a great, wonderful aunt,” Ms. Marino said. “She was very excited.”
Ms. Strebel’s mother, Maureen Strebel, explained that her family is very close with the family of Tammy Barton’s husband, Dan Barton. His brother Edward Barton, known as Eddie, was hurt in the same accident that took Erika Strebel’s life.
Ms. Jespersen said Ms. Strebel cared deeply for her family, and absolutely loved being a mother.
“Ayden was her world,” she said. “Ayden was her everything. There was nothing you could do to keep her from that child.”
Ms. Jespersen added that Ms. Strebel’s relatives and close friends will help care for and raise her son. “Ayden has gained so many loving people to help him along the way,” she said.
Ms. Marino took a moment to thank the entire Eastport community, noting that their friends and neighbors have been wonderful in the support that they’ve offered, including holding fundraisers to benefit Ayden.
With so many memories, Ms. Jespersen said it was hard to put Ms. Strebel’s life into words.
“She was full of life and just a wonderful, wonderful person,” Ms. Jespersen said. “You can’t really sum her up though. She was just this big ball of happy.”