Family of Dana Papaj speaks out

GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. (WIVB)- Dana Papaj continues to recover at ECMC after being seriously hurt in a hit and run crash on Grand Island.

Papaj was walking her dog Molly on East River Road the night of June 13 when state police say 27-year-old Edward Kuebler III of Tonawanda hit her with his pick-up truck and took off.

Kuebler, a corrections officer at Wende Correctional, pleaded ‘not guilty’ to Leaving the Scene of a Serious Personal Injury Accident Wednesday night in the Town of Grand Island Court.

The 27-year-old waived his right to a felony hearing; the case could now go to a grand jury, who would decide if there’s enough evidence for an indictment.

Kuebler’s charge is an E Felony. If convicted, he could face up to four years behind bars.

Papaj is a wife, mother, and new grandmother. Her husband Don Papaj said Dana became a grandmother just days before she was struck.

Kuebler’s arrest Wednesday night doesn’t bring the family much comfort, Don said, as his wife’s injuries are not changed by it.

“She was hit so hard, directly in the head by this vehicle. The impact was so great. And she had brain trauma throughout her whole brain, not just in one spot but throughout,” he said.

Papaj is out of a coma, but struggles with her memory. She undergoes therapy multiple times a day.

Don told News 4 his wife is currently on medication to help stimulate her brain.

During this difficult time, the Papaj family is leaning on one another.

“All of my immediate family, my children, my parents, we’re here daily making sure that somebody’s with her from morning to evening. Really the only way we can deal with this is just to be here for her, be hopeful,” Don told News 4 outside ECMC Thursday.

In a civil case, Papaj’s attorney filed a Notice of Claim with the Town of Grand Island and Erie County, citing both failed to provide a safe sidewalk in the area where Dana was struck.

Kuebler remains an active employee at Wende Correctional according to NYSCOPBA.

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