A cancer nurse killed in Times Square by a phone mugger was visited by grief-stricken loved ones at an open-casket viewing service.
Maria Ambrocio, 58, was visited by grieving relatives at the S. Fryczynski & Son Funeral Home funeral home in Bayonne, New Jersey, on Sunday, nine days after she was killed October 9.
She wore a white outfit, and held on to rosary beads as stricken friends and family members knelt before her casket to pray.
The room was filled with red roses, which were Ambrocio’s favorite flowers, with a priest also on hand to say prayers.
Ambrocio’s funeral will take place on Monday, at St Henry’s Catholic Church in Bayonne.
Ambrocio, who had two stepchildren, failed to regain consciousness after she fell and smashed her head into the concrete when she was pushed into the ground by a mugger the day before.
A viewing was held for late New Jersey nurse Maria Ambrocio, 58, at the Frycznski and Sons Funeral Home in Bayonne, New Jersey
Ambrocio was remembered fondly as ‘Ning Ning’ or ‘bright star’ by her family and friends
Maria’s friend Norma Lardizabal, 75, and Fidela Daniel Javate, 79, grieve the loss of their beloved Ning Ning
Grieving relatives held one another for comfort at Ambrocio’s funeral Sunday
Two family members said a prayer over the later cancer nurse’s casket
Another man was filmed kneeling over the coffin to say a final farewell to the 58 year-old
She was one of eight murder victims in NYC between October 3 and 10 – an increase of 100 per cent in the four people maliciously killed for the week before.
Family and friends fondly remembered the late Ambrocio who had previously left her native Philippines years ago to give her family a better life.
‘Her nickname (Ning Ning) means bright star, and that’s what she basically is, a bright star,’ Ambrocio’s stepdaughter Lehrie told the Post.
‘She took us in like she was our mother. She cared, she was patient.’
Ambrocio’s stepdaughter added that her death felt very ‘surreal’ to her as well as ‘heartbreaking.’
Her younger stepdaughter Lalia Lillia also expressed her sorrow, even mentioning how difficult it was for her to tell her children.
Lardizabal (above) was with Ambrocio when she had been knocked down in Times Square
Ambrocio’s stepdaughters Lalia Lilia and Lehrie Ambrocio fondly spoke off their stepmother who had come from her native Philippines to give her family a better life
A collection of photos and memories were put together in remembrance of Ambrocio
‘I was telling my kids, ‘I have to tell you something. Lola Maria is in the hospital and she’s in a coma right now,’ Lilia said.
‘I had to explain to them what that is. They’re still young so it was very hard for them to understand.
‘The next day I don’t even have the heart to tell them that Lola Maria is gone.
‘They were asking me, ‘Is she going to be OK?’ I don’t know. They can’t grasp that she’s gone.’
Fidela Daniel Javate, Ambrocio’s aunt also offered heartfelt sentiments about her niece.
‘She loved Facebook. Every two days she was posting one of her activities,’ she told The Post.
‘Sometimes they were of dancing at a park in Bayonne. She was full of life.’
Homeless mugger Jeremiah Foster, 26, had knocked Ambrocio down in Times Square while she was walking with her friends and left her unconscious on the ground
Javate had told News 12 that it was ‘difficult’ to her about her niece’s death in the wake of the rise of NYC crime.
‘We all know these things are happening all over,’ she told the network.
‘There’s no safe place. But when it comes and you hear it happens to your family it’s really hard to take in.’
Jeremiah Foster, 26, was arrested on felony assault, robbery and now murder charges for allegedly aggressively shoving Ambrocio to the ground.
He had previously stolen another woman’s cell phone before he knocked Ambrocio over who she was walking with two friends on the afternoon of October 8, police say.
Norma Ladrizabal, 75, was one of Ambrocio’s friends who was with her at the time of the attack.
‘Immediately, she was comatose’, Lardizabal said. ‘She never recovered. It broke my heart.’
Other friends and even a former patient were devastated by the news of Ambrocio’s passing.
Ambrocio’s co-workers had attended the service in remembrance of her hard work during the COVID-19 pandemic
‘When I saw what happened on the TV I was extremely heartbroken that someone could do this horrible thing to a person that was randomly walking and minding her own business,’ Ashley Connolly-Romeo, a former patient, told News 12.
‘My personal condolences are with the family and everyone that knew her and worked with her at BAM Hospital and all her friends and loved ones.’
Her fellow staff members also remembered Ambrocio for her work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘She was asked to help and pass through COVID but this sad incident happened to her,’ Rosalie Gambito of the Jersey Medical Center said. ‘This is you know really sad and tragic.’
A funeral mass is scheduled for Monday at St. Henry’s Catholic Church in Bayonne.
The rise in murder crimes have increased significantly throughout this past week with numbers representing cases over the course of the week prior, as per NYPD stats.
Murders have risen by 100 per cent, from four between October 3 and 10 2020 to eight between October 3 and 10 2021.
That 100 per cent increase included Ambrocio’s killing.
The 28 day interval has also seen a 14.7% change with 34 cases for September 12 and 39 for October 10.
There has been no change, however, between the past year with both 2020 and 2021 having 374 cases.