Howard Beach remembers 20-year-old killed by L train

Mourners carry the coffin of Joshua Basin out of St. Helen’s Roman Catholic Church in Howard Beach, as Basin’s mother Zena (r.) and grandmother Mary (second r.) look on. See story on Page 3. Photo by Christina Santucci
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She’s a mother surviving minute to minute.

Zena Basin laid her son Joshua to rest last Thursday, less than one week after he was struck and killed by a subway train following what police said was a platform tussle with a Westchester man.

Now the Howard Beach woman faces a future without her only son while family and friends give her the strength she needs to cope.

“I’ve gotten to the point where I just shut everything off,” said Zena Basin. “The outpouring of support from the community has been incredible, but there are times when I can’t even go outside and face the world.”

Joshua Basin, 20, was killed following a fight with Ryan Beauchamp, 33, March 23 in the Bedford Avenue L train station, according to the criminal complaint filed by the Brooklyn district attorney’s office. After Beauchamp initiated an altercation on the train, he and Basin fought onto the platform and the two fell onto the tracks. But Basin was not able to escape before being struck by the train, the complaint said.

Zena Basin struggled to hold back tears as she remembered her son’s caring nature and penchant for writing poems, stories and lyrics. She said he was a talented and kind soul who never thought twice about going out of his way to help a friend or family member in need, recalling how his friends would call him “the kid with the golden heart.”

“If a friend called him at 2 a.m. with a problem, Josh would be out the door,” she said. “That’s just the way he was.”

The friends and family he cared for gathered at St. Helen’s Roman Catholic Church, 157-10 83rd St., in Howard Beach to say their final farewells to the LaGuardia Community College student. With many mourners clutching tissues, one friend read a letter he wrote to Joshua Basin and recalled his friend’s dreams of hitting it big.

“The moments we shared were priceless,” the friend said. “When we spoke about getting famous, you made me realize that it was important to keep some of the same people around you if we made it, just so we could remain balanced and not lose touch with our roots. The biggest thing I learned from you was to be myself and live every day, every moment, like it was my last.”

Even after Joshua’s last moment has passed, his mother is still finding notes the young man scribbled on napkins and scrap pieces of paper. She said those fragments of his musings will continue to keep her son’s memory alive and his presence in her house.

“I still see him sometimes. He used to come into the house and flip his hat down. I expect to see that and I expect to see him,” she said. “He was a joker and always kidding around. If I had a problem, he would make fun of things just to make me laugh.”

According to the Brooklyn district attorney’s office, the suspect charged in the fight that led to Basin’s death faces two counts of attempted assault, harassment and disorderly conduct — all misdemeanors.

Beauchamp was arrested on March 27 and his case is now being weighed by a Brooklyn grand jury.

In order to survive, Zena Basin said she will focus on caring for Joshua’s grandmother, Mary, who recently suffered a stroke.

“Sometimes I can’t even cry because I don’t have any more tears,” she said. “But I have to be strong. For my mother and for my son.”

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4546.

Posted 5:04 pm, April 4, 2012
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