Friends and family of Theresa Drobish, who went by Terri to those close to her, are still reeling from her untimely death in late September. Drobish was walking with her young son Alexander on the southbound sidewalk of Roosevelt Boulevard near Strahle Street when she was struck by a Toyota Camry that had been forced off the road by a Ryder truck, which drove off after the accident and never stopped.
“It’s such a tragedy,” said Tina Burke, Drobish’s instructor and adviser at the Omega Institute in New Jersey. “Terri always had a smile on her face and overcame many obstacles to get to where she was. She was an excellent student, always going above and beyond.”
Drobish had finished her schooling to become a surgical technologist and had just completed her externship at Wills Eye Surgery, which is right across the street from where the accident occurred. She had been enjoying the sunny weather with her son earlier that day at Pennypack Park before heading to her workplace for her last evaluation. As she was walking down the sidewalk, everything changed.
“We are going to make sure she is represented at graduation,” Burke said. “We’ll have a chair, as well as a cap and gown for her. And her diploma will be delivered to her family.”
Drobish’s husband of 23 years, Daniel, still struggles with the loss of his wife.
“I’m trying to stay focused and keep it together for Alex,” he said. “I’ve dreamt of her often.”
When speaking of his longtime partner, he teared up as he recounted the life they had built together.
“There was a time where we were rich, fat and stupid,” he said. “Now we’ve seen the other side of life, and we’ve learned lessons.”
For Drobish, it has been particularly difficult to pass the spot where his wife died.
“I drive by all the time. You go down the boulevard and all you see are shrines popping up. It comes down to the driver; we’re no longer patient people,” he said. “Do any of us stop to think about how many people have lost their lives? It’s strange and unusual that I have to pass it all the time, pass the place where my wife died.”
Police have not been able to provide statistics on deaths that have occurred on Roosevelt Boulevard. After repeated phone calls, they have not provided comment.
Crystal Gunning, a classmate of Drobish’s, spoke of her work ethic and drive.
“She was brilliant,” she said. “She was always happy, always upbeat, always willing to help. Even if she was sick, she would come to school. I think about it all the time and it just breaks my heart, [especially the thought of] Alex growing up without his mom.”
While there is an ongoing investigation into the accident, Drobish has nothing but kind words for the driver of the Camry that struck his wife.
“I feel for the young woman who was driving the car,” he said, stating that she and his eldest son, David, have had contact through their respective spiritual leaders.
The outpouring of support from the community has been astounding for the family.
“I’m amazed at the number of people who came [to her funeral],” Drobish said. “It was absolutely amazing. If somehow something beneficial comes out of this, I’ll eventually be okay.”
“For me, it’s good. I believe that she’s up there and I look forward to joining her when my time comes,” he said.
Terri Drobish is survived by her husband Daniel and three sons, David, Damien and Alex.
Kirsten Stamn is a student reporting for Philadelphia Neighborhoods, the publication of Temple University’s Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab.