With the man charged in the Oct. 9 hit-and-run on Rt. 46 awaiting the announcement of his court date, family and friends of the injured victim of the accident Anna Semioli, a student at Montclair State, are rallying together to raise funds for her medical bills.
Michael Choynowski, 27, of North Arlington, N.J., turned himself in to the Clifton Police Department on Thursday, Oct. 15, taking responsibility for the accident which left Semioli in a coma.
According to his lawyer, Emile Lisboa, Choynowski was on his way to work when he hit something with his Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck. He said Choynowski pulled over, did not see Semioli’s body on the side of the road and drove away, assuming he hit a deer. A week later, Choynowski turned himself in after seeing the news coverage of the accident, according to Lisboa.
“[Choynowski] feels very badly about the whole situation and he has been very cooperative with police and investigators,” Lisboa said to The Montclarion.
Co-workers confirmed that Choynowski was not under the influence upon arriving at work on the night of the accident, Lisboa said. He has no criminal record, aside from one ticket received several years ago.
Choynowski faces charges of knowingly leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident resulting in serious bodily injuries and endangering an injured victim, both third-degree crimes which carry a sentence of three to five years, according to Sergeant Robert Bracken of the Clifton Police Department.
The Semiolis are now preparing for a fundraiser at the Bergen Brick Oven in South Hackensack, N.J. next week, which aims to cover the cost of Semioli’s mounting medical bills due to her lack of medical insurance.
Nick Schilt, owner of the restaurant and Semioli’s former manager at the Cheesecake Factory, partnered with Alyssa Baglezt, another former co-worker of Semioli, to organize the event coming up on Oct. 28 from 6 p.m. until midnight.
“I felt like I needed to do something,” Baglezt said, explaining that during the four years of working long hours, nights, weekends and holidays with Semioli, “we [saw] each other more than we [saw] our own close friends and family. We spent so much time together. We became like our own little family.”
Schilt will be donating the $10 per person admission as well as 20 percent of all proceeds from the event to the Semioli family.
“Anna doesn’t have health insurance. Whatever we can raise—anything is going to help,” Baglezt said.