Fundraiser following Stony Creek tragedy benefits Shelby D.A.R.E. program

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published July 22, 2015

 From left, Shelby Township Fire Chief Jim Swinkowski, Shawn Narra, Selena Gappy, Stephanie Marroki, Karen Narra, Police Chief Robert Shelide, Greg Bobchick Sr. and Dawn Bobchick pose with a $3,000 donation to the Shelby Township Police Department’s D.A.R.E. program in the township municipal building July 21.

From left, Shelby Township Fire Chief Jim Swinkowski, Shawn Narra, Selena Gappy, Stephanie Marroki, Karen Narra, Police Chief Robert Shelide, Greg Bobchick Sr. and Dawn Bobchick pose with a $3,000 donation to the Shelby Township Police Department’s D.A.R.E. program in the township municipal building July 21.

Photo by Sarah Wojcik

Advertisement

At the July 21 Shelby Township Board of Trustees meeting, the families and a friend of Joseph Narra and Gregory Bobchick — the two survivors of a May 8 car crash at Stony Creek Metropark that killed three of their peers — awarded a $3,000 donation to the Shelby Township Police Department’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education program.

Narra’s cousins Stephanie Marroki, 19, and Lauren Haboosh, 20, and friend Selena Gappy, 18, worked with local businesses and a large support group to stage a fundraiser three weeks after the crash to raise awareness for safe driving and wearing seatbelts.

The fundraiser — a June 14 walk at Stony Creek Metropark called “5K for our 5 Boys” — raised $6,000. After subtracting overhead costs, the women chose to donate $3,000 to the D.A.R.E. program and the rest to smaller charities.

“The whole community was really, really affected by what happened, so we wanted to find a way to get everyone to rally together and really support all of the families that were involved,” Gappy said.

Marroki said she was happily surprised when approximately 300 people turned out for the fundraiser in stormy conditions.

“We were at the hospital one day and, me and my niece, we were sitting around, and she saw me crying, and I said, ‘There’s something good got to come out of this,’ because there was a lot of negative talk going around,” said Karen Narra, Joseph’s mother.

She said she wanted to repay Jeffrey Shea, the off-duty Shelby Township firefighter who happened to be kayaking nearby when the accident took place, for saving her son’s life.

“Joseph was only seconds away from dying,” she said. “He was in the water, and the car was on his left side.”

Joseph Narra is home now, but he has a long road of rehabilitation ahead of him.

“He’s doing so much better — the doctors say he is three months in advance in the recovery process,” Karen Narra said. “He’s going to start walking in about a month. They’re going to train him how to walk again, and his halo came off and his hip has healed.”

Joseph was one of four boys who were ejected from a black 2008 Jaguar S-Type when it lost control, hit a guardrail and rolled five times before coming to rest in the Stony Creek spillway.

“The one person who did wear a seatbelt sustained very minor injuries,” Shelby Fire Chief Jim Swinkowski said. “We can all control ourselves as we get into other people’s vehicles and wear seatbelts.”

Swinkowski said the law enforcement community, for decades, had been working on public education to promote the use of seatbelts.

“It does make a difference in life or death,” he said. “We see it, as police officers and firefighters here in the community, in a lot of our accidents — how important seatbelts are.”

He praised the young women for putting together something positive to bring awareness to the situation and explained that the D.A.R.E. program teaches young drivers to make good decisions.

An investigation conducted by the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office found speed and alcohol to be the major factors in the May 8 crash.

Advertisement