Lindsay Wiener wasn’t particularly athletically inclined, but she and her friend Sammy London decided at the last minute to join the junior varsity basketball team during their sophomore year at Holton-Arms School in Bethesda.
The coaches questioned their intentions, according to London, but ultimately allowed the pair to join. Still, they were usually distracting and loud and didn’t care for the game of basketball. “Because of our lackluster effort in practice, no one ever took us seriously,” according to London.
In one game, Holton was “up by a lot,” so the coaches played the benchwarmers since there wasn’t much to lose. With a roaring crowd and around 20 seconds left in the game, Lindsay decided to fire a three pointer.
It went in.
“No one ever could have predicted a near-buzzer beater out of Lindsay considering these were literally the only five minutes she ever played in the entire season,” London told a large crowd gathered Monday at Washington Hebrew Congregation in Washington, D.C., for the funeral of Lindsay, 19, and her sister Jillian, 21, of Potomac, according to a livestream of the event.
The sisters were on vacation with their parents, Lewis and Alisa, and brother, Zach, when they were killed in an early morning fire Wednesday at their rented vacation home in the Hamptons on Long Island.
The sisters, both graduates of Holton-Arms School, were asleep on the second floor. First responders transported them to a local hospital, where they were pronounced dead, according to published reports.
Local media reported that Zach, 23, escaped the fire through a second-story window. Lewis tried unsuccessfully to reenter the home when he realized the sisters had not escaped, according to published reports.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
At Monday’s funeral, two caskets, one draped with a University of Michigan flag for where Jillian was a rising senior and the other with a Tulane University flag for where Lindsay was a rising sophomore were placed in front of a somber crowd dressed in black.
Friends and family of the Wieners offered remarks and their condolences during the service at Washington Hebrew Congregation, where Lewis Wiener was recently named president of the congregation.
Jillian, who was studying earth and environmental science, spent a semester in the Turks and Caicos learning about marine life. Her family joked that she picked her major based on her love for Finding Nemo.
A yoga instructor and an ice hockey player, she was adventurous and passionate about the environment, family members said.
Brittany Hunter said Jillian was her best friend and never failed to make her feel like she was “worthy of a place in this world.”
“Jillian was better to me than anyone I’ve ever known in my entire life,” Hunter choked out between sobs.
Lindsay, who was studying marketing and Jewish studies at Tulane, always tried to give each family member the best birthday possible, according to Zach, who graduated from the University of Chicago and Landon School in Bethesda.
Zach said he had always promised Jillian he’d be the one to take her to Australia one day so they could have an adventure together, and he said he still planned to make the trip happen.
He recalled that sometimes when he was grumpy he turned down driving around with Lindsay, but said he’d give anything for one more car ride with her.
He thanked Jillian and Lindsay for making him a big brother.
“Being your older brother is what I am and forever will be most proud of in my life,” Zach said. “I’ve been able to find comfort knowing that you have each other and are holding each other’s hands like I’ve been holding Mom and Dad’s.”
Lewis asked for people to call and text the family when they think of Jillian and Lindsay to assure them that the sisters haven’t been forgotten.
He shared that on the night of the fire, he got a hug from both sisters before he went to bed.
“I will always have the blessing of knowing that the last thing we said to each other was ‘I love you,’” Lewis said.
Christine Zhu of Gaithersburg, a rising junior at the University of Maryland who is studying journalism and Spanish, is the Bethesda Beat summer intern.