The family of a Long Island college student killed by a drunk driver as she was headed towards an airport for a mission to Africa to deliver medical supplies yesterday remembered the aspiring doctor as a “special” person.

Elizabeth Durante, 20, and seven of her Connecticut College classmates were in a van on a Connecticut highway heading to a Boston airport for a flight to Uganda when a car driving the wrong way slammed into them early Saturday morning.

“I don’t know what to say right now,” said her sobbing mother, Kathleen, at her home in West Islip. “We’re just devastated. She was a very special girl, a giving girl.”

Durante’s brother, Keith, 17, said his sister was a certified emergency medical technician, and that she had planned to go to medical school.

“She found her niche in helping others. That’s what drove her,” Keith said.

“Liz is the type of person, if she saw us crying or in grief, she would tell us to laugh.”

Durante and her best friend, Stephanie Hinman, 20, had organized the trip as part of a medical mission with Asayo’s Wish Foundation, a charity that helps sick children.

This would have been Durante’s third trip to Uganda.

“She had a great sense of humor,” said Hinman who was in a car behind the van when it was struck on Interstate 395 in Montville, Conn. “She was a loyal friend and she really stuck by what she believed in.”

Laura Whitelaw, 19, a fellow passenger, said the impact caused the van to roll over several times, according to her mother Susan Chapman, 59.

None of Durante’s classmates were seriously injured in the crash.

Whitelaw helped other passengers escape through the windows, but Durante was trapped and could not get out.

“It could have been any one of them or all of them,” Chapman said. “And these kids, even though they’re physically OK, they will never be the same emotionally.”

The drunk driver, Daniel Musser, 22, was to be arraigned today on charges of manslaughter and DUI.