Family of Fil-Am hit-and-run victim urges witnesses to come forward
Five days before turning 79 on February 16, retired merchant marine Jose Beof Sr. was hit by a brown van in front of his house.
On his birthday, his family plans an early morning serenade of "How Beautiful is the Morning" by his hospital bed, as doctors mull the likelihood of surgery to treat his pelvic fractures.
Margie Wisotsky, the youngest of nine children, recalled to The FilAm the February 11 incident: Beof, a walkaholic, went to a nearby food mart to buy some carrots. It was an errand request from a daughter who was supposed to make pancit for his birthday. Before buying the vegetables, he passed by a store to get a lotto ticket. His errands done, he walked back to his house at the corner of 67th Street and Myrtle Avenue in Glendale when he was struck by a van. The driver did not stop, and Beof was left on the street in front of his house.
"He already crossed the street from the food mart," said Margie, a director of the Philippine Independence Day Council, Inc. "He's about 10 steps away from his house."
It happened early evening at 7:30 p.m. The weather was chilly and it is believed there were few passers-by and therefore not a lot of potential witnesses. Margie said investigators from the NYPD and the FBI are pinning their hopes on a store camera that may have captured the criminal act; they are waiting to speak to the store owner.
In New York, leaving the scene of a vehicular accident can result in a misdemeanor, which carries a jail time of at least one year or fines. The penalty will be assessed based on the gravity of the injury sustained by the victim. Margie said her father suffered broken bones to the back and the pelvis.
"According to reports someone called 911 and reported a station wagon with the color tan," she said. "The van sped away, mabilis. The driver is male."
She is confident the driver will be apprehended because of the combined efforts of the FBI and the NYPD. "Leaving the scene of a hit-and-run is a serious offense in New York," she said.
Beof is known as someone who loves to walk around his neighborhood. He and his wife Lolita, also 79, live with one of their five sons. Four of his sons are marine merchants like him, except for one who became a Catholic priest. Reports say Fr. Marlon Beof is the spiritual adviser of boxing legend Manny Pacquiao. He is a pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Santa Ana, Calif.
"Mahilig maglakad," said Margie. "That’s what makes Tatay very energetic."
When the family learned that Beof was hit by a vehicle, they did not immediately tell his wife Lolita for fear she might not take the news well. Margie concocted the tale that her father suffered a nosebleed from the extreme cold, and she had to take him to a hospital.
Lolita believed the ruse. Margie called her brother Marlon to fly to New York so he could gently break the news to their mother without giving her a shock. After she was told, the family broke down crying.
At the North Shore LIJ Hospital in Manhasset, the family is bracing for a "long process of recovery," she said. Beof is under careful observation while doctors assess if surgery is necessary or not. His memory appears intact and he remembers every member of his family.
"…Another big trial came our way," writes Margie on her Facebook wall, "but we thank God my dad is ok." —The FilAm