NHP teen dies in Iceland crash, family still in recovery

Zachary Zabatta. (Photo courtesy of St. Mary's High School)

New Hyde Park teenager Zachary Zabatta died from injuries sustained in a car crash while vacationing with his family in Iceland Oct. 12, and his family is still recovering from the accident, village Trustee Rainer Berger said at a village meeting last Thursday.

Zabatta’s aunt Arlene Zabatta has started a GoFundMe page to help raise funds for the Zabatta family. Zabatta did not respond to requests for comment. 

According to Zabatta’s GoFundMe page, what started out as a family vacation in Iceland turned into “unfathomable tragedy.” The family was involved in a car accident that led to critical injuries to their youngest daughter, Sophia, and Zachary’s death.  Zachary’s father, James, mother, Barbara, and sister Gabriella are still overseas recovering from injuries as well, Zabatta wrote.

The entire family is hospitalized and it is not clear when they will be able to return home, Zabatta wrote.

Berger said that he has known Zachary, a 17-year-old senior at St. Mary’s High School in Manhasset, since he was in kindergarten and was a member of Boy Scout Troop 298, where Berger was a scoutmaster. Berger said that Zachary recently completed his Eagle Scout project and his final paperwork for the rank was submitted Oct. 11, the night before the accident. 

Berger said that he was on the phone with Zachary and his father the night before the accident as well. He said all that was left for Zachary was a board of review for his project and that the troop is working to get the Boy Scouts to give the award to Zachary posthumously. 

“He was a great kid. Even though he is gone, to us he is still alive,” Berger said. “Jim and Barbara have always been involved in the community. Our hearts go out to them.”

Berger said that the family’s return is dependent on recovery from the accident as well as clearing transporting Zachary’s body back to the United States with the U.S. Embassy in Iceland. 

St. Mary’s High School said in a Facebook post that it lost an “incredible member” of the community. 

“During his time at St. Mary’s, Zach was consistently at the top of his class, choosing to take the most challenging AP courses and finding great success in them. These accomplishments were leading Zach to apply to the most competitive colleges and universities in the world,” the school said. 

Zachary’s project involved renovating space behind the stage in Marist Hall at the school, the school said.

Zachary’s parents, James Zabatta and Barbara Gittlitz, are the primary beneficiaries of the fundraiser, Arlene Zabatta wrote.

Sophia was initially in an induced coma after the accident but has since woken up and is beginning to take a few steps, Zabatta wrote. 

“We thank everyone for their continued love and support in this difficult time,” Zabatta wrote. 

As of Tuesday, Zabatta’s GoFundMe page for her relatives has raised $122,992 out of a $150,000 goal.



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