SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – The family of a former South Plainfield resident killed in a hit and run earlier this month is looking for answers and is offering a cash reward for information that leads to identifying the driver.
“We are pleading with the public. [Whoever did this] is somebody’s relative, neighbor, co-worker, friend. If someone saw something or if they overheard anything, please come forward,” the victim’s sister Jennifer Bentivenga of South Plainfield told TAPinto South Plainfield.
On Aug. 13, sometime between 12:30 a.m. and 1:30 a.m., 31-year-old John 'Johnny' Kukuch, Jr., 31, was walking along the shoulder of Route 1 South near Clover Leaf Cemetery and Value City Furniture when he was struck. He was found on the ground just south of the Route 35 exit - a mere 450 to 500 feet away from his Iselin home.
“He was extremely close to home. He was literally around the block, which makes it even worse,” said Bentivenga, adding, “A couple of more minutes he would have been in his own bed.”
Woodbridge Police and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office believe Kukuch was hit by a newer model black/dark colored smaller SUV traveling southbound on Route 1; the exact make and model are unknown. The vehicle should have front passenger side damage to the headlight and possible damage to the passenger side mirror.
In an effort to find the driver and urge anyone with information to come forward, Kukuch’s family has erected a billboard near the intersection. Additionally, Bentivenga has set up a GoFundMe (https://www.gofundme.com/justice-4-johnny) with a reward being offered to anyone who anonymously steps forward with information leading to finding the person responsible. Within the first 48 hours, close to $6,300 has been raised.
The goal, said Bentivenga, is to put together as 'large of a reward as possible' for 'anyone who anonymously steps forward and exposes the person(s) responsible for this coward, inhumane act...' She urges ‘anyone with any details to please ‘speak up.’
“You may think the detail is irrelevant but anything that can potentially help put a timeline in place is crucial,” she stated on the GoFundMe page. “Again, if you saw, spoke, texted, anything to/from Johnny PLEASE reach out with those details no matter how small you think they are!”
Kukuch, who grew up in South Plainfield and is a 2004 graduated of South Plainfield High School, is predeceased by his mother, Madeline Kukuch, and survived by his son, John Dominick, father and stepmother John and Ann Kukuch and siblings, Jennifer (John) Bentivegna, Katherine (Jamie) Franco, Jessica Kukuch, Jaclyn Kukuch, Christopher Kukuch, and Nicholas Kukuch as well as his maternal grandparents, Joseph and Angelina Giordano, paternal grandparents, Ida Kukuch and John Kukuch, six nieces, four nephews, and many aunts, uncles, and cousins. In his honor, a friend launched http://www.justice4johnny.com; the website features news articles about the incident and investigation, photos, and a link to the GoFundMe page.
“We need answers. We cannot fully move forward without knowing who did this,” said Bentivenga, adding, “It’s not going to bring him back and we are all very much aware of that but it is one step closer to healing and recovery and helping us move forward. It’s kind of all we have left. Whoever did this needs to own it.”
Anyone with information is asked to call the Woodbridge Police Department at (732) 634-7700 or the Middlesex County Prosecutor's office at (732) 745-8842.
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