Flanders crash victim was ‘always there’ for family

01/21/2014 2:00 PM |

COURTESY PHOTO | Family said Barbara Tocci helped others without asking for anything in return.

You couldn’t meet a better person than Barbara Tocci, her brother Scott said.

“She was the strength of the family,” he said. “She took care of everybody. That’s how she was … If there’s any person that would make me strive to be a better person, it was Barbara.”

The beloved 47-year-old grandmother was killed in a two-car accident in Flanders Thursday morning, when a utility truck crossed into her lane and struck her vehicle about 8 a.m., police said.

The driver of the truck suffered non life-threatening injuries in the accident.

Barbara, a Riverhead High School graduate living in Hampton Bays with her partner Kent, had strong ties to the Flanders area. She worked as a title examiner at SCTIC Inc. in Riverhead, and always went out of her way to help family, friends, or neighbors in need.

Barbara never asked for credit, her sister Susan Tocci said.

“She just did things without people knowing,” Susan said.

Barbara’s father Phil said Barbara, who had two sons, helped him raise her six siblings.

“She was the one that always knew the birthdays, the holidays,” Mr. Tocci said. “She was the one that was always there, always taking care of everybody.”

Barbara — whom he affectionately called “Barbara Doll” — even helped her grandmother in her final years, going to her house to care for her after work, Mr. Tocci said. She was buried next to her grandmother in Flanders Cemetery Monday morning.

Mr. Tocci said he believes potholes along Flanders Road in Flanders caused of the accident that took his daughter’s life.

“If those freaking potholes had been fixed this accident probably would never have happened,” he said, choking back tears.

Police said the cause of the crash is still under investigation and wouldn’t comment on whether potholes played a role in the fatal accident. State Department of Transportation workers were called to the scene Thursday to repair damage to the road after the crash, police said.

Mr. Tocci said seeing things around the house, like presents they jokingly exchanged over the holidays, reminds him of how much he misses her already. Barbara’s visitation in Riverhead on Sunday was the hardest.

But Mr. Tocci was surprised by the long line of people stretching out of the funeral home and down the street who all came to pay their respects. The funeral home ran out of mass cards and the guest book filled with names.

It was a testament to how many lives Barbara touched, Mr. Tocci said.

“It makes you feel a little better inside that so many people loved your daughter just like you do,” he said.

psquire@timesreview.com