Lake Grove resident Ronald DeStefano lived to make others laugh.
"He was definitely one of the funniest people I’ve ever met," said DeStefano’s nephew and godson, Frank DeStefano, 31, of Port Jefferson Station. "Even if it was at his own expense, he would make fun of himself, to make someone else laugh."
Ronald DeStefano’s life ended abruptly about 6:45 a.m. on Dec. 20 when a westbound vehicle struck him while he walked northbound across Route 347 at Hallock Road in Stony Brook, Suffolk police said.
"A passing motorist called 911 at approximately 7:05 a.m. to report a body in the roadway," police said.
DeStefano, 54, was pronounced dead at the scene, officials said.
Police continue to search for the hit-and-run driver and detectives have said they believe a silver vehicle sustained front and/or passenger-side damage during the crash.
Frank DeStefano told Newsday Tuesday that his uncle, who worked two jobs — at a Dollar Tree and Marshalls — was walking to work when his life was cut short.
Detectives with the Suffolk County Police Department’s Major Case Unit are seeking the public’s help in identifying the driver who fled the scene.
Suffolk Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward for information that leads to an arrest.
Frank DeStefano said his uncle’s unsolved hit-and-run case has left his family with many unanswered questions.
"If you have information, just come forward. Do the right thing," he said. "Right now, my family doesn’t have closure. It’s an open wound that is not healing."
The victim's nephew added: "My family is not out for vengeance. We just want answers. Why didn’t you stop? Maybe there is some explanation, but my family doesn’t know."
Frank DeStefano said that even at 5-foot-3, his uncle had a larger-than-life personality. He said he will always cherish the memory of how his uncle attended his backyard wedding in May. Due to the pandemic, the guest list was cut from 250 to 15, DeStefano said.
"That was probably one of my best memories. He was there. He got to see it," DeStefano said. "I know he was extremely happy that day."
Anyone with information about the hit-and-run crash is urged to call Suffolk County Crime Stoppers anonymously at 800-220-TIPS (8477).