Nick Puzio, 25, of Farmingville, died after being struck by two separate vehicles as he crossed Route 112 in Patchogue on March 12. Both drivers fled the scene. A blood drive was held at the Farmingville Fire Department's headquarters in Puzio's memory Saturday. NewsdayTV's Drew Scott reports. Credit: Newsday/Kendall Rodriguez

A 25-year-old Farmingville man killed in a hit-and-run crash in March was remembered one blood pint at time as dozens of bereaved friends and family members donated plasma Saturday.

In memory of Nick Puzio, nearly 100 donors turned up at the Farmingville Fire Department during a six-hour blood drive hosted by the New York Blood Center.

The donations come at time when blood reserves at the nonprofit remain critically low for the tristate region, according to Doreen Fiscina, manager of business development at the center. While each pint of blood can save multiple lives, donations dropped during the COVID-19 pandemic and have not ramped up again.

Puzio received blood after two separate drivers struck him and took off around 4 a.m. on March 12. Although he did not survive, his loved ones hoped to boost blood levels to offer lifesaving care for others.

“Nick was a true blessing who would do anything for anyone and if you knew him personally, you know his energy was very infectious. Nick was always willing to help,” said his mother, Terry Puzio, of Charlotte, North Carolina.

She learned about the crash from a passerby who stopped to help and picked up her son's ringing cellphone and called her.

“They were getting out to help him when the second car hit him,” Terry Puzio said, recalling a group formed a blockade around her son's body to prevent further injury.

Terry and Santo Puzio, parents of Nick Puzio, stand outside...

Terry and Santo Puzio, parents of Nick Puzio, stand outside the Farmingville Fire Department where a blood drive in memory of their son took place on Saturday. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Puzio was crossing Medford Avenue near Oak Street in Patchogue when he was allegedly hit by one motorist and then struck a minute later by a second driver. Police later arrested Elian Jurado Zavala, 19, who was charged in an indictment with leaving the scene of an incident without reporting. Suffolk police said he is believed to be the first driver that struck Puzio. 

Jurado Zavala, who pleaded not guilty, left the scene without contacting police or checking on Puzio, prosecutors have said.

Police are still searching for the second driver.

“Both drivers left him in the street to die with no regard for human life. How does someone hit another human being and drive away and then just go on with their life as if nothing happened," Terry Puzio said Saturday.

Kaila Passalatqua, of Farmingville, donates blood in honor of Nick...

Kaila Passalatqua, of Farmingville, donates blood in honor of Nick Puzio during a blood drive Saturday in Farmingville. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

"If the first driver had stopped, he could have potentially saved his life by at least preventing the second car from hitting him," Puzio added, while pleading for stiffer penalties for drivers who flee crashes.

Alongside Puzio's parents, two siblings and a throng of friends were several Republican lawmakers and elected officials pushing for “Nick’s Law,” which was introduced near the end of the state legislative session in June. The bill will be reintroduced when the session resumes in January.

State Sen. Dean Murray (R-East Patchogue) sponsored the measure to increase penalty and fines for fatal hit-and-run crimes from a Class D felony to a Class B felony. Of the 13 hit-and-run fatalities in Suffolk County this year, Murray said, eight had occurred in the Town of Brookhaven, which is where Patchogue is located.

“When you talk to law enforcement, they'll tell you one of the biggest reasons that people leave the scene of an accident is because they're impaired one way or the other, whether it's drunk or drugged. They leave the scene thinking that if I leave, they won't know and the penalty won't be as much so maybe I'll turn myself in tomorrow or maybe I won't,” Murray said.

Assemb. Doug Smith (R-Holbrook), who co-sponsored the bill, said he was hoping for bipartisan support for the measure.

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