Tragedy struck on South End Avenue on Thursday evening at approximately 7:15 pm, when longtime Gateway Plaza resident Arlene Kalfus was struck by a bus and killed. Ms. Kalfus, who was 81 years old, had lived in Battery Park City since the late 1980s, according to friends and Gateway Plaza staff.
Preliminary reports from police on the scene and at least one witness indicate that Ms. Kalfus had moments earlier disembarked from an M9 bus on South End Avenue, at the stop across the street from Gristede’s. These accounts say that she then walked in front of the M9 bus, as it remained at the stop, and began to cross South End Avenue. As she emerged from the blind spot created by the M9 bus, one of the Downtown Connection shuttle buses operated by the Downtown Alliance approached. Neither Ms. Kalfus nor the driver of the Downtown Connection bus appear to have seen each other until it was too late. She was struck and thrown to the pavement, and died within minutes.
For years an active member of the Battery Park City Seniors group, she is remembered by Maryanne Braverman (who serves on that organization’s Steering Committee) as somebody who, “helped in many ways over the years. She was generous with her time, helping with banking for the group, coordinating bus trips and organizing Restaurant Week luncheons.”
“She was a regular participant at Friday’s Senior Fitness Chair Yoga, usually arriving with an armful of tote bags for her trip to Whole Foods right after class,” Ms. Braverman recalls. “Arlene played Mahjongg most Tuesdays. She was a peacemaker when that was called for. She was kind and caring.”
Another leader of the Seniors Group, Ann Schwalbenberg, notes that, “Arlene was a good friend who called if she had not seen or heard from you for several days. She was a social worker before she retired. She loved all the arts, often going to plays with her theater group, attending classical concerts with another group of music lovers, and she was part of a monthly museum group that explored exhibits at throughout the five boroughs, New Jersey, Connecticut and Philadelphia. She suffered through a number of painful illnesses but never let the pain stop her from a concert, play or dinner out with friends.”
Ms. Schwalbenberg observes that, “she was known for her wisecracking wit, which often regaled us in fitness classes and other events,” and adds that, “she was incredibly independent, and used the subways all the time, usually choosing to meet people at the destination.”
A spokesperson for the Downtown Alliance said, “this is an enormous tragedy. Information is hard to come by right now and we are awaiting further details from the Police Department. As we do so, our thoughts are with those who were close,” to Ms. Kalfus.