Surrounded by friends, Matthew Jensen celebrated his birthday on Monday night, but he never made it home.
Police say a driver struck the teacher from Brooklyn early Tuesday and fled the scene. Friends and his students at P.S. 110 are now grieving the loss of the 58-year-old whom they say was loved by everyone.
John Ogren, Jensen's cousin, says he doesn't understand how someone can just hit and person and not stop.
"My cousin is dead… and he was hit by a speeding car that continued on …that hit him ran over him …killed him and just moved on," Ogren said. "How could you do that? It wasn’t like you hit a mouse. My cousin is big...you’d know if you ran into him.”
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Police haven’t been able to find any witnesses or surveillance video to help them figure out who did this. But sources say they believe the car was a black Rolls Royce because of debris left behind at the crosswalk on Bayard Street and McGuinness Boulevard.
"I hope he just died right then, so there wasn’t any suffering," Ogren said.
The children at the elementary school where Jensen taught ESL classes are also devastated to lose their teacher. They put up a memorial wall in his honor where one student drew a picture of a child crying, and others wrote "I love you, Mr. Jensen. RIP.”
"Everyone loved him. Everyone loved him," a tearful Ogren repeated.
Jensen was known as a bit of a curmudgeon who could be grumpy at times, but friends say he had the kindest heart. He cared about the environment, loved his cats and adored his students.
"His ESL students from years ago in the Bronx all still kept in contact with him," said Sheila O’Shea, a family friend.