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Hit and run victim remembered: ‘generous, hard working’

Published: Jun. 1, 2021 at 6:23 PM EDT
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MASSENA, N.Y. (WWNY) - The family of a man who was struck and killed by a minivan Saturday says he was always ready to help, always ready to have fun.

James Hayes, 30, of Massena died late Saturday night when he was hit on Center Street. Police have charged Blakely Houle, 22, also of Massena, with manslaughter and other charges.

Hayes’ family described him Tuesday, using words like generous, hard working, a jokester. They showed 7 News pictures of Hayes helping his nephew with a BB gun, letting his nieces use him to play dress-up.

“He was outgoing. He was funny. He liked to joke,” said Starr Elliott, a sister.

“If you needed him, no matter where you were, he would find a way to get to you.”

Another sister, June Markowski, called what happened “unthinkable.”

“It’s hard. It’s hard. To have someone killed. Someone you love,” she said.

Hayes’ family learned of his death on Sunday, just after midnight. When they got to Massena, they found a makeshift memorial - a picture of James, candles - at the scene where he died. And they heard from his friends, who told family members “He didn’t deserve this. James was a good guy. He didn’t deserve this. It shouldn’t have happened.”

Hayes’ family shared a photo Tuesday of James’s son Branson. Hayes was no longer with the boy’s mother. But Branson is the reason he stayed in Massena.

Hayes’ sister plans a family get together in memory of James at her home in Rochester. But she also says they’ll be coming back here to Massena for a celebration of life that everyone can participate in.

“James never really wanted … any sorrow. He wanted party, celebration, friends, family,” June Markowski said.

Police continue to investigate Saturday night’s events on Center Street. Houle remains in the St. Lawrence County jail on $100,000 bail.

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