Auto-body shops called on to help find hit-and-run driver who killed Linden, NJ student
LINDEN — The reward to find the driver that struck a Rahway High School junior has been increased by the attorney representing his family.
Rayan Bien-Aima, 18, was struck while crossing an intersection in front of Aviation Plaza about 11:25 p.m. on April 25. The vehicle, a dark coupe or sedan, continued north on Route 1 toward Elizabeth. He died on July 2 at a rehab facility.
The $10,000 reward posted by Union County Crimebusters for information that results in an indictment and conviction has been more than doubled to $25,000 by Brach Eichler, the law firm representing the family.
"After representing them you get attached to people," attorney Edward P. Capozzi told New Jersey 101.5. "They're such a nice family. He has four younger brothers and sisters. His parents are devastated. He was a good kid, was about to get his citizenship in June. There's just so many nice things about this kid. He was going to go into the Marine Corps. We liked him and we want to help him."
Paying for information
The reward is also intended to help find information about the car.
Capozzi said Linden police have closed the case but the firm has been trying to piece together the information they have from police and video.
"We're not detectives. It's not our job to do this stuff. We're really just doing this out of the goodness of our hearts just try to get them justice," Capozzi said.
The father of one of the firm's employees is an auto body mechanic. He supplied a list of all the body shops within 100 miles of the crash scene. The shops were contacted by the firm with a letter showing the missing pieces of the car in case the driver came into their shop for repairs.
"We're hoping that maybe somebody in need of money knows who this person is or was a passenger in the car or if somebody from the body shop maybe they know the car. $25,000 might make them give them a name," Capozzi said.
Capozzi said the car that struck Bien-Aima had a damaged turn signal or indicator, a damaged headlight cover, a damaged black front grill, a dented or damaged hood and a cracked windshield.
His staff is also looking into the possibility that the intersection was recently widened but the timing of the traffic light at the crosswalk was not adjusted to allow for the longer walk across the highway. The video shows Bien-Aima still in the road when the light turns green.
"He's an 18-year-old kid. He gets about three-quarters of the way across and the car that's in the center lane, he's right in front of that car when the light turns green. That car is waiting for him," Capozzi said. "The vehicle that struck him went around that car into the right lane at a high rate of speed and hit him there," Capozzi said.
Video from the NJ DOT shows the crash at approximately 13:50 (video courtesy Brach Eichler LLC)
Trying to solve the case
Capozzi said he is a big fan of the series Forensic Files and watched an episode about the driver in a hit and run being identified by looking at paint chips and damage to the vehicle
"A kid was struck on the side of the road and from a couple paint chips just from that color they were able to determine what color it was and they went to every person in the area that owned one looking for the similar damage. There was a couple parts missing. They caught the guy and I was wondering why the police in this case didn't go that far," Capozzi said.
Linden police on Monday afternoon did not respond to New Jersey 101.5's request for more information.
Capozzi said anyone with information should call his firm's office at 973-364-8311.