A New Jersey high school student just weeks away from graduation remains in critical condition following last week's Times Square rampage in which a deranged driver sped through sidewalks on Seventh Avenue, killing one woman and wounding at least 20.
Jessica Williams, a senior at Dunellen High School, is currently "heavily sedated" in a hospital, recovering from a fractured pelvis, broken leg, lacerations to the face, and a host of serious internal injuries sustained in the collision, according to her cousin Nicole Guild.
A GoFundMe page set up by Guild is soliciting "donations to help her single income family afford all the upcoming medical expenses." The page has raised nearly $25,000 in just three days, with donations from over 400 people.
"She is currently in critical condition with many surgeries and a long road to recovery ahead of her," Guild, who also lives in the Middlesex neighborhood, wrote in the post. "High school prom and graduation for Dunellen are just weeks away and the excitement of all of that has been ripped away from her as she is now fighting for her life."
Guild added that her cousin's spleen was removed on Friday, and that she will require surgery on her broken leg in the coming weeks. A photo shared to the GoFundMe page shows Williams in a hospital bed, attached to several medical tubes, with cuts visible on her face.
In the months leading up to her graduation, Williams worked with her aunt at Pepe's Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria in Plainfield, New Jersey, the Daily News reports. "The family is really worried about caring for her long-term," the aunt said. "We're just living it one day at a time." She added that her niece loved spending time at the beach and had a "wonderful laugh."
"Jessica is one of the most loving people I know and has such a passion for life," Guild echoed.
Williams was one of several teenagers among the 20 struck in Thursday's mayhem. A second Dunellen student, Destiny Lightfoot, was also with Williams at the time, though a police source tells the News her injuries are less severe. The two were in Midtown for Senior Skip Day, a Dunellen tradition, according to local news reports.
Alyssa Elsman, an 18-year-old tourist visiting from Michigan, was fatally struck in the crash, and her 13-year-old sister remained in critical condition as of this weekend. The Elsman family has also set up a GoFundMe page.
Richard Rojas, the 26-year-old Bronx man who admitted to the rampage, is being held without bail on charges of murder and 20 counts of attempted murder. Rojas, a Navy veteran, reportedly told police that he smoked pot laced with PCP, and that he wanted to "kill them all" before driving into the sidewalk.
Mayor de Blasio said last week that Rojas's family told authorities that he suffered from "mental health issues going back to childhood that, like so many other such situations in our society, went unaddressed, even during the time he was in the U.S. military."