Autistic man killed by van in East Germantown mourned as ‘quiet, kind, loving’

For Geraldine Edens, the loss hasn’t truly sunk in yet. “I know that it happened,” she said, but it’s still “surreal.”

While walking to her East Price Street home on Sunday night, Edens’ older brother Cornell was struck by a van that had careened onto the sidewalk three doors down from his destination.

Geraldine was writing Christmas cards at the time and stepped outside after hearing a loud crash followed by shouting. She realized it was her brother who had been hit after recognizing his green jacket.

“I knew he wasn’t going to survive from what I saw,” she said.

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Cornell, 59, died at Albert Einstein Medical Center a half an hour later. After reportedly leaving the scene briefly, the driver and the passenger were taken into custody but have not yet been charged or arrested.

Remembering her brother

As rain drizzled outside her door on Wednesday, Geraldine Edens spoke fondly of her brother, the sixth oldest in a family of 11.

“He was very quiet and kind, always helpful,” she said while sitting in her living room. “If you needed him to do something he was always there. He was just a loving person.”

Geraldine said her brother adored animals, touring around the city and visiting his family.

He traveled to East Germantown from North Philadelphia nearly every weekend for a visit. Geraldine said Cornell, who was autistic, didn’t talk much, but was always polite. The two often sat together and watched the SyFy Channel. It was Cornell’s favorite.

“I will miss most that knock on that door,” said Geraldine.

A painful memory that won’t go away

In the days since her brother was killed, Geraldine has found it hard to leave her home. The carnage from the accident still litters the sidewalk. She’s been crossing the street or walking around the corner when she heads out.

“It’s never going to go away for me,” said Geraldine, who has lived on the block for more than 30 years.

As a means of healing, Geraldine wants to keep her brother’s memory alive by helping people more.

“To be more aware of other people. To extend myself just a little bit more,” she said.

It’s what her brother would have wanted.

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