Westport woman killed crossing Post Road recalled as 'innocent, loving soul"™
If you saw Sharon Seaver Broecking walking down the street, she probably would have been in the company of a canine companion. A fixture for many years at the Lansdowne condominium complex, she walked residents' dogs daily, and also worked as a caregiver for senior citizens who lived there, as well as working in that capacity for other Westport residents.
Tuesday, Dec. 21, would be her last day at Lansdowne.
Broecking, 62, suffered fatal injuries when she was hit by a car as she crossed Post Road East, near the intersection with Westfair Drive, shortly after 7 p.m. She was crossing the street to catch a bus to her home, about a mile and a half away at 785 Post Road East.
Police said the preliminary findings of their investigation indicate that Broecking was hit while in a pedestrian crosswalk as she tried to cross the busy road.
But as they prepare for Broecking's memorial service Wednesday, family and friends are focusing on her contributions to the community where she had lived since she was a young adult.
"She was a very sweet person," said Broecking's sister, Pamela Seaver VanDerheyden, who lives in Fairfield.
Broecking was also warmly remembered by friends who knew her as "Sherry." Describing her as an "innocent, loving soul," Karen Kahn recalled Broecking's love of animals, including her own dog, Reggie. But Broecking treated other people's pets just as kindly, even letting Kahn's golden retriever, Lily, sleep in her bed when she took care of her.
"There was just a special energy about her," Kahn said. "Sherry just communicated a spirit of love and compassion."
Karen Kahn's mother, Joan, who lives at Lansdowne, also remembered Broecking's kindness.
"She was a warm, friendly person," she said. "She was just part of the community."
Seeing her daily as she walked residents' dogs -- in any weather conditions -- on the Lansdowne grounds, the apartment complex's gatehouse supervisor, Kamal Soumari, shared the Kahns' sentiments.
"She was such a nice person," he said. "She liked to help people. Everybody loved her."
VanDerheyden also recalled her sister's generosity to animal rights organizations, despite her limited financial resources.
"She had nothing," she said. "She would take her last five dollars and donate it to the Humane Society."
Broecking was also a familiar face at the Poster Animal Hospital on Post Road East, regularly bringing in Lansdowne residents' pets for care.
"She was very sweet. She was a very nice and caring person," said Dr. Joan Poster, founder of the hospital.
The Police Department's Accident Investigation Unit and Detective Bureau, meanwhile, continue to investigate the accident, said Capt. Sam Arciola. No charges had been filed as of Tuesday, but Arciola said charges could be filed later if the investigation determines the driver was at fault.
A preliminary investigation into the accident found that the vehicle was traveling west on the Post Road when it struck Broecking. The driver was reportedly not injured in the accident and remained on the scene after the crash.
Almost exactly two years ago, another Westport resident, William C. Ford, a former custodian at Staples High School, was struck and killed by a vehicle as he crossed the Post Road using a crosswalk approximately one-tenth of a mile west of where Broecking was killed. The driver involved in that accident was not charged.
Arciola said Westport police are cooperating with state authorities in their investigation of the Dec. 21 accident, but they have not yet concluded whether the crosswalk where Broecking was killed jeopardizes pedestrians' safety.
"Any time that you have accidents as tragic as those that occurred, we want to know how they occurred, what was involved, and how we can make things safer," Arciola added.
Post Road East -- part of U.S. Route 1, which runs the length of the Eastern seaboard -- is a state right-of-way and would require state approval to make any changes, such as installing lights at pedestrian crosswalks or even removing crosswalks.
In addition to Pamela Seaver VanDerheyden, Broecking's survivors include her mother, Elinor Seaver Roll of New Canaan; Pamela VanDerheyden's husband, Michael VanDerheyden, and their three children, Chelsea VanDerheyden, Heather VanDerheyden and Hogan VanDerheyden; a brother, James Seaver of Boston; an aunt, Janet Annunziato and her husband, Dr. Lewis Annunziato, of New Canaan, and cousins Mark Annunziato, David Annunziato, John Annunziato and Amy Annunziato Sullivan. She was predeceased by her father, Howard E. Seaver.
Services will take place at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 29, in St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 111 Oenoke Ridge Road, New Canaan. Burial will be in Lakeview Cemetery, New Canaan.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Connecticut Humane Society, 455 Post Road East, Westport, CT 06880. Arrangements handled by the Hoyt Funeral Home, 199 Main St., New Canaan. For online condolences, visit www.hoytfuneralhome.com.