NEW YORK (Reuters) - Orthodox Jews overflowed a New York synagogue and poured onto the streets on Sunday to mourn the death of a young couple killed in a car accident on their way to the hospital to have their first baby, who survived after delivery by C-section.
Meanwhile police continued their intensive search for a hit-and-run driver and a passenger who fled the midnight accident that killed the mother, Raizi Gluber, and father, Nathan Gluber, both 21-year-old Orthodox Jews from a close-knit enclave in Williamsburg, in the borough of Brooklyn.
The baby boy, reported by police to be in serious condition, had yet to be named, a family friend said.
Mourners overflowed the funeral conducted in Hebrew at a Williamsburg synagogue while about 200 more assembled in the street, where pallbearers carried a pair of caskets draped in black velvet from the synagogue to a pair of awaiting vehicles that drove them away.
The deaths devastated the Orthodox community in Williamsburg, where the accident occurred and where people were thinking of the child’s well-being, said family friend and community leader Isaac Abraham.
“How can the community react? It’s a shock. It’s like a punch in the gut,” said Abraham, who has known the deceased mother’s parents since childhood. “People are not prepared for this. Parents are not prepared to bury their children.”
All the men speaking at the service sobbed or wailed during their eulogies, and nearly all the women were in tears.
Investigators launched what a police spokeswoman called “full-on search” for the male driver and female passenger whose gray BMW sedan struck the side of a taxi that was taking the couple to the hospital. The pair fled on foot, leaving the car behind.
The mother and father were pronounced dead on arrival at separate hospitals. The mother was taken to Bellevue Hospital, where doctors delivered the baby boy, police said.
The taxi driver was listed in stable condition at Bellevue, police said.
The accident was still under investigation, police spokesman Paul Browne said. Witnesses reported the BMW traveling at a high rate of speed, and the taxi was at a stop sign, Browne said.
Reporting by Anna Hiatt; Writing by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Philip Barbara and Eric Beech