Mother Pleads for Justice in Son's Death As She Plans to Help Others - NBC New York

Mother Pleads for Justice in Son's Death As She Plans to Help Others

Family, police still hunt for hit-and-run killer as they promote organ donation.



    Three months after a Long Island teen was killed by a hit and run driver, his family is still looking for justice. But despite their devastating loss, they're still finding a way to help others. News4's Greg Cergol reports. (Published Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012)

    The mother of a teenager killed by a hit-and-run driver -- and the man who received a kidney from that same teen -- issued another plea for help in bringing the boy's killer to justice.

    Oscar Veliz, 16, was killed last October when a vehicle struck him as he was riding his bicycle home along Clinton Avenue in Hempstead.

    Police have yet to make an arrest, and Veliz's death continues to haunt his mother.

    "I don't sleep," said Yolany Veliz. "I can't sleep."

    From a seat inside the Hempstead pool hall she owns, Veliz said she still prays someone will come forward with information that could lead to an arrest.

    "I am asking God that maybe he will give me someone to tell me something," she said.

    Nassau police believe a gold or tan Toyota Camry, model year 1997 to 2001, with new Empire Gold style plates, struck Veliz. One man videotaped the aftermath of the crash, and others are believed to have witnessed it.

    A $10,000 reward has been offered for information leading to an arrest.

    Mike Cernam, 28, is also waiting for justice for Oscar Veliz. Cernam received a kidney from the teen after his death. That kidney let Cernam end the dialysis treatments he had endured for 10 months.

    "Without his help, I wouldn't be here right now," said Cernam from the steps of his Inwood apartment.

    The Veliz family donated Oscar's organs to four others after his death. A 52-year-old man received his liver, a 38-year-old was given his pancreas and a kidney, a 65-year-old received one of his lungs, and a 17-year-old girl was given his heart.

    According to Yolany Veliz, she and her son had discussed organ donation before his death. Now, she has created a foundation to promote organ donation in the Latino community.

    Her family lawyer, Mitchel Weiss, is aiding in the effort.

    "Through the foundation, many will hear about this and become inspired to be donors," Weiss said.

    "We hope to both educate our community and support them," added foundation director Enrique Lugo.

    It is still a bittersweet ending for Yolany Veliz but Cernam hopes that justice will come for the teen whose death saved him.

    "This family needs closure," he said.