Man, 21, struck and killed while changing tire on GSP

December 18, 2009 2:36:59 PM PST
A hit-and-run driver is the focus of a police search in New Jersey Friday. This after a young man changing a tire on the shoulder of the Garden State Parkway was struck and killed by a person who just drove off. For Sayda Zambrano, the victim's sister, the pain and grief are still so raw.

"I just bought his Christmas present," she said. "It's under the tree. He's my brother, and now he's just gone."

Now, she doesn't know whether to cry or be furious. Her baby brother, 21-year-old Ricci Chicas was changing a tire on the shoulder of the GSP in Irvington at 4 a.m.

"At that point, Mr. Chicas and two other occupants in the vehicle were hit by a black Ford that then fled the scene," New Jersey state trooper Mathew Hubner said.

And just like that, the vibrant, funny young man was gone. His friends were injured, but alive. Ricci celebrated his birthday just last month.

"We're not going to have him for Christmas dinner this year," Zambrano said. "My son, his nephew won't be able to be with him. That's it."

But it's just the beginning for state police. That black Ford is out there somewhere. And while police hunt for it, Sayda has a message for the driver.

"You hit a person, not a raccoon," she said. "It's a human being. You can't just go on with your day like nothing happened. My brother is not here anymore. You can't just keep going like you hit an animal or something."

It's going to be a difficult holiday season for Ricci's family. State police are looking for the public's help to find the black ford with front-end damage. If you know anything that could help them, they ask that you give them a call. Contact the Bloomfield station of the New Jersey State Police at 973-338-1370.