ALDEN, N.Y. (WIVB) – The family of Damian Garra, 18, is grieving the loss of a life cut short. They say the Emerson High School graduate was headed for great things before he was hit and killed by an alleged drunk driver.
The accident happened early Friday morning on Shanley Street near Richard Drive in the Town of Cheektowaga.
Paul Hintermeier, 36, is facing a long list of charges including vehicular assault and driving while intoxicated.
Garra was supposed to be celebrating with his family Saturday, at a graduation party- in his honor. He was heading to NCCC in a couple of weeks, with dreams of becoming a master chef. Instead it was on that day he died from his injuries from this latest hit and run.
His parents Tammy and Jamie Garra grieve together in their home in Alden. Tammy sad, “He was very loved, very well rounded, a very head strong young man.”
Garra’s family isn’t angry; instead they’re asking for prayers for the accused suspect, Hintermeier. Jamie Garra said, “I’ve gotten to the point where I’m honestly not even angry at the guy. If anything he needs prayers just as much as we do, that man needs help.”
They say that is what Damian would have wanted, always positive, always smiling. “And just hearing the amazing stories every single person had about him, things we’ve learned about him that we didn’t even know,” Jamie said.
Garra was riding his bike on Shanley Street heading to his long-time girlfriends house. The next few days were full of prayers for a recovery. “I never left his side, I was at the hospital from the second he got there,” said Tammy Garra.
But Saturday, news came that Garra went into cardiac arrest and died. “My heart is very empty right now,” said Tammy Garra.
His organs will be donated to 7 different people including a 2-year-old-girl and a 60-year-old man.”He wanted to help, he wanted to help anybody that he could ever help,” his parents said.
Now the family is hoping for lawmakers to close the legal loophole in Alix’s law which says drunk drivers can flee fatal hit-and run accident scenes without responsibility by claiming they did not know they hit anything. “Just to be able to hit somebody and drive away and not get charged, I hope he gets charged with everything,” said Tammy Garra.
For now, the family will come together and celebrate Damian’s life. “He lived life to the fullest,” his parents said.
Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said the charges in this case could be upgraded to vehicular manslaughter once the results of a court-ordered blood test on Hintermeier are returned. He’ll appear in court Wednesday morning.