Family of CJ Hackett Commemorate His First Heavenly Birthday

Family and friends of Christopher “CJ” Hackett gathered last night at the site of his fatal accident to commemorate his first “heavenly birthday.”

The accident

On the night of August 2nd, 2022, CJ Hackett and his best friend, AJ, were riding bikes and scooters along McLean Ave. Around midnight, a van struck CJ and proceeded to flee the scene. An ambulance arrived and transported a gravely injured CJ to Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx. CJ passed away the following day surrounded by his loving family.

The Yonkers Police Department discovered that the driver was City of Yonkers employee, Stephen Dolan. Dolan was arraigned on February 3rd; entering a not guilty plea. Dolan faces up to seven years in prison on the multiple counts for which he is charged. The family of the victim wishes for the maximum sentence. Christopher Hackett, the father of the victim said, “I want him in jail obviously. I want him in jail for a long time, not for two years. Killed too good of a kid to go away for two years.”

The commemoration

On what would be CJ’s 17th birthday, his family and friends gathered on McLean Avenue to remember his life. Over 80 people stood facing a memorial display for a life lost too soon. Prayers were said and stories told of a boy with a heart of gold and “eyes as blue as heaven.”

CJ Hackett crowd
Crowd gathered in front of CJ Hackett memorial on McLean Ave

Friends of CJ stood almost in a procession to hug CJ’s mother, Yvonne, after the 15 minute service concluded. For long after, people gathered in small groups to offer condolences to one another-and still find a bit of joy in knowing how much this young man meant to so many.

CJ Hackett memorial cross
CJ Hackett memorial cross

Speaking with AJ Solieri who was with CJ on the night of the accident, he said that the large amount of people who came late on a Tuesday night to honor his fallen friend surprised him. He noted his appreciation that the small memorial still stood on this section of McLean Ave. But, he would like the City of Yonkers to permanently dedicate this space to the memory of his best friend, CJ.

The campaign

AJ’s father, Tony, told us how important it was that leaders in the community participated in this event. He posted the flyer for the event numerous times on social media and directly called on three of his representatives to attend: Mayor Mike Spano, City Council member John Rubbo, and Westchester Legislator David Tubiolo. Rubbo and Tubiolo were seen in the crowd; humbly paying their respects.

Justice for CJ
Justice for CJ sign at the memorial site.

Tony and AJ both hope that with the support of these officials, coupled with the outpouring of support from CJ’s loved ones, they can pursue their campaign called, #JusticeForCJ. As it stands, alleged drunk hit-and-run driver Stephen Dolan may only serve a short sentence for his accused crimes. But, Tony reminded us that CJ’s sentence is an eternity, so a harsher punishment for Dolan is warranted. And for that, the district attorney should pursue, and the court should grant, the maximum punishment possible if Dolan is convicted.

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