For 16-year-old CJ Hackett and his best friend, AJ Solieri, the evening of August 2nd, 2022 started out like any other summer night for a group of Westchester teens–riding around Yonkers, having fun, and building memories. But shortly after midnight, their lives were forever changed when CJ was struck and killed by an alleged drunk driver in a hit-and-run accident.
Out for a Ride
According to AJ’s father, Tony, on the evening of August 2nd, the teens were out with friends for a ride around the neighborhood, including Coyne Park. Solieri recalls that around 9:00 p.m., AJ returned home after being hit in the eye with a water pellet. CJ and their friends stayed behind at the park to hang out.
A short time later, the group of friends went their separate ways, with CJ and another boy arriving at AJ’s house around 10:42 p.m. Solieri recalls that he had a conversation with CJ and he “appeared to be fine. We laughed and he made jokes.“
When Solieri retired to bed around 11:15 p.m., he understood that CJ and his son would be going into the hot tub. However, Solieri later learned from his home security footage that the boys left AJ’s house again around 11:43 p.m.
A Left Turn Down McLean Avenue
In conversation with his father, AJ explained that he and CJ traveled back to Coyne Park. CJ traveling on his e-scooter and AJ on his e-bike. After some time, they left by turning in the direction of CJ’s home and headed towards a park exit.
AJ recalled that they exited Coyne Park on McLean Avenue and turned left heading westbound towards CJ’s Hancock Avenue home. CJ was crossing the eastbound lane when he was hit at approximately 12:20 a.m.
They got about 100 yards from the park exit, near the entrance of the shopping mall, when CJ was struck by a dark van. AJ witnessed the collision. The driver stopped and looked at AJ then took off at a high speed. AJ tried to help CJ, but since he was non-responsive, AJ then called 911.Tony Solieri
Police and Ambulance Arrive on Scene
According to the Yonkers Police Department Incident Report, CJ was gravely injured when YPD arrived at the scene. The report states that, “Christopher [CJ] Hackett [was] bleeding heavily on the ground with FDNY medics attempting to render aid.”
CJ was transported to Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx. As per CJ’s lead physician, Dr. Dorza, “Christopher had extensive injuries including a fractured femur, fractured skull, broken shin, and possible severe brain damage.“
CJ’s mother, Yvonne, arrived at the hospital shortly after. He died the next day surrounded by his loving family. CJ’s father, Christopher, and Yvonne consented to having CJ’s organs harvested for donation.
“They call it a Walk of Honor,” Christopher said. “I would expect nothing less for such a sweet, wonderful son.”
Remembered For His Kindness and Generous Spirit
Christopher “CJ” Hackett, a brown-haired teen with a big smile, was a junior at Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains. He had a large group of friends and spent summers in East Durham waiting tables at Gavin’s Irish Country Inn. In his obituary, he is remembered as a “kind, loving, and honest soul,” and “loyal friend to those who knew him.” He was active in the community and enjoyed spending time with his younger brother Harry and sister Leilea.
CJ’s wake was held on August 11th, 2022 at Pelham Funeral Home in Westchester. His funeral Mass on August 12th was held at St. Barnabas Church in Woodlawn, presided over by Father Brendan Fitzgerald. CJ Hackett is buried at Winston Cemetery in East Durham.