Queens woman dies months after parking lot assault: ‘She was someone who mattered’

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In the end, she was loved.

When Caroline Bonacci died last week from injuries she suffered from a mugging in a Queens parking lot, there was no husband or children to grieve her loss, no parents to cry about the empty hole in their hearts.

But her wake on Tuesday is expected to be filled with loved ones, nonetheless: people from her neighborhood, colleagues she used to work with, friends from her theater club.

In other words, her family.

“She was someone who mattered,” said Melissa Keras-Donaghy, a Westchester physical therapist who was friends with Bonacci for more than 30 years. “She had friends and people who cared about her.”

Bonacci, 60, was shopping at Key Food on 73rd Ave. near 215th St. in Oakland Gardens on April 13 when a man in a car ripped her purse away and knocked her down, according to police.

The woman, who walked with a cane, had been unloading groceries into her car when the robber drove by and snatched her purse, witnesses said. In the fall, her head struck the pavement.

Cops arrested Paul Wiesner, 56, and charged him with robbery, assault, grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and reckless driving.

It is not clear if the charges against him will be upgraded in the wake of Bonacci’s death.

They said she tried to fight back.

After Bonacci was initially rushed to Long Island Jewish Medical Center, she bounced back and forth between the hospital and a nursing home. But friends said she never really recovered.

She died on Oct. 22.

“She was hospitalized for a while,” said longtime friend Henry Brewer. “Whenever we visited her, she was asleep. So we would leave cards and messages and notes just to say that we were there, ... we were thinking of her and she remained in our prayers and thoughts.”

Brewer, president and director of Levittown’s Ivy Lane Players, said Bonacci was the house manager for their theater group.

“She was well known in regional theater in the city and Long Island,” Brewer said. “We were friends for over 40 years. We go back to college.”

He said Bonacci’s parents both died within the past five years, and her sister passed away in 2021.

“It’s very sad, the circumstances under which she passed,” Brewer said. “It was very difficult.”

He said the theater group will have its opening night on Saturday — Molière’s “Tartuffe” — which they will dedicate to Bonacci.

Bonacci graduated from Queens College, where she studied education. She went on to work for various companies as a claims adjuster with a specialty in workers’ compensation cases.

She retired in 2021.

Bonacci was also a cat lover. She had two felines named Bosely and Callie. One died shortly before the attack. The other has since been taken in by a neighbor.