KATONAH, N.Y. – Chelsea Decaminada, a 2011 graduate of John Jay High School, died on Saturday, May 4, as a result of injuries she sustained in the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka.
The April 21 bombings, in which three churches, four hotels, and a housing complex were targeted, have now killed 258 people.
Decaminada, of Goldens Bridge, graduated from the Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy in 2015. According to the school, the 26-year-old was on assignment as an international program specialist with the Commercial Law Development Program at the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Prior to joining the program, Decaminada volunteered with the U.S. Peace Corps in the Ruvuma region of Tanzania, “using her fluency in French and Swahili to serve the population there,” the school wrote on Facebook.
Wilbur Ross, United States secretary of commerce, said, “Chelsea devoted her life to public service, and her dedication and spirit were a model for all of us at Commerce. She served her country with distinction. As we mourn her loss, we must continue to fight terrorism around the world.”
Westchester County Executive George Latimer also mourned Decaminada, calling her a “dedicated public servant” who “served her country with distinction.”
Jennifer Dell, owner of Pulse Performing Arts Studio in Bedford Hills, met Decaminada more than 15 years ago. Decaminada started as a dance student and later became captain of Dell’s dance companies. Dell eventually hired Decaminada, who was still in high school, to be a dance instructor.
“You knew she was going to change the world,” Dell said. “She had that magnetic personality that you wanted your child to be influenced by.”
Decaminada was a mentor to the younger students, Dell said.
“She had a huge heart and a drive to just make life better,” Dell said. “It’s a loss to the world. I have no doubt she was out to do more amazing things than she’s already done.”
Decaminada is survived by her parents, Joseph and Eileen, and her three siblings, Joseph, Amanda, and Eric.
A funeral service is being held Wednesday at Clark Associates Funeral Home in Katonah. A Mass of Christian Burial is being held Thursday morning at St. Joseph’s R.C. Church in Somers. Interment will follow at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Somers.
Memorial donations in her memory can be made to Plan USA at planusa.org.