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DV Pilot Police & Fire

Those who knew Justin Sanchez recall ‘that beautiful, bright smile’

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

ONLY ON CVP : Among those trying to make sense of the death of Justin Sanchez is Lucille Stanziale, who was there when the happy-go-lucky teen suffered a freak accident that killed him.

“I was there, sitting in a taxi, when Justin had his tragic accident,” she said. “By the time I ran to him, other witnesses were there phoning 911….”

“I felt so helpless,” Stanziale said, “but I gathered his sneaker, his watch and pulled his bike to the side because it was all I could do.”

Like many young locals, Justin liked to ride his bike down North Bergen’s hills.

The consequences were fatal Sunday night when the 14-year-old jokester, due to enter high school this fall, fell and hit the pavement on 43rd Street, just down the block from Town Hall.

It was still light out, barely 8:45 p.m., when police found Justin — bleeding from the mouth, ears and nose — on the ground at the corner of Durham Avenue.

After being brought to Jersey City Medical Center, he was moved to University Hospital in Newark, where police said he fell into a coma from a swollen brain.

His mother, Veronica Sanchez, 30, reluctantly allowed him to be removed from life support Tuesday at midnight. His harvested organs were then made available for six people — an uplifting end to a tragic tale.

“I remember him sometimes driving me crazy in the classroom,” Justin’s 6th-grade teacher, Jillian Cerullo, told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .  “But all he had to do was flash that beautiful, bright smile of his, and it was impossible to stay mad at him!  He truly was a vibrant, energetic, intelligent young man.”

“His life was so short,” Stanziale wrote on a Facebook tribute page, which has attracted nearly 600 friends. “But in his short life, he has given the gift of life to so many others who will live on because of him.”

Meanwhile, Union City Mayor Brian P. Stack donated $1,000 to help defray funeral and burial costs (Justin lived with his grandmother on 46th Street but apparently grew up in Union City). Bayonne Medical Center this morning agreed to make up the $2,500 shortfall.

In addition to his mom, Justin had four siblings, as well as several aunts, uncles and cousins.

A funeral Mass will be held 10 a.m. Monday at St. Augustine Church in Union City, followed by interment at Grove Church Cemetery, North Bergen. Anyone who wants to donate to the buri al costs can contact Veronica Sanchez at (201) 673-3512.

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