Five months after the hit-and-run accident which left Montclair State University student Anna Semioli in a coma, she remains in critical condition with little brain activity, while her family is burdened with the piling medical costs.
Semioli, who was left on the side of Route 46 after being struck just after midnight on Oct. 9, has undergone several surgeries since the accident and is now in the care of Kessler Institute in West Orange. “The tests that they’ve taken have shown very little brain activity,” said Richard Orsini, a friend of the family who is organizing a fundraiser to help cover the mounting medical bills.
Orsini, whose construction company employs Semioli’s dad, Tom Semioli, as a mason, mentioned that the victim’s father said, “When [Anna] looks at you, it’s like she’s looking right through you.”
Currently, Semioli is not on life support. She has a feeding tube, and changing the tube was the focus of her most recent surgery. According to Orsini, she cannot speak or walk, and her condition has “plateaued” in recent months. Kessler plans to release her on April 5 due to her unchanged condition.
According to Orsini, her mother has not left her bedside, and he often lets Tom Semioli leave work early to be with his daughter.
Orsini approached Cedar Grove UNICO, an Italian-American service organization, earlier this year with plans for a 50/50 raffle as a fundraiser for the Semioli family. “[UNICO] just couldn’t help me enough,” he said. “They were very open to helping with whatever we wanted to do.”
The raffle’s 300 tickets, priced at $100 apiece, sold out in a week and a half according to Orsini, who credited their success to the reach of shares on social media. He said that he still receives inquiries about tickets from individuals who, after discovering that tickets are no longer available, often donate money directly to the Semioli family. When the winning name is drawn at the UNICO Executive Board Meeting on April 28, $15,000 will go the winner and $15,000 to the Semioli family.
“I’ve had a number of people actually put Anna’s family on the ticket stub,” said Orsini, explaining that, if one of those tickets is drawn, the entire $30,000 will go towards Anna’s medical bills.
Dr. Karen Pennington, Vice President of Student Development and Campus Life, and Cav. Mary Ann Re, Director of the Coccia Institute at Montclair State, met with Orsini this past December to discuss the Semiolis’ financial situation in the wake of the accident. After consulting with the bursar’s office, the university agreed to reimburse Anna’s tuition payment for the fall 2015 semester, since she was unable to complete it.
According to Orsini, Pennington and Re discussed holding a fundraiser for Semioli at Montclair State after the winter break, but he has not followed up with them since the original meeting. They planned to sell buttons or ribbons to students and give all the profits to the Semioli family.
“When I got the phone call [about the accident], I was just heartbroken,” said Orsini, who got choked up when speaking about Anna’s condition. “A 22-year-old shouldn’t be going through something like this.”
Anyone interested in donating to the fundraiser can reach Orsini at firstname.lastname@example.org.