Dozens of friends, family members and classmates gathered on the Lincroft campus on March 10 to honor the memory of Brookdale student Jeffrey “Jay” Michel, who was tragically killed in a hit-and-run collision on March 7.
Despite a cold rain that carried throughout the vigil, loved ones stood together and lit candles in Michel’s memory, sharing stories of a compassionate brother, a caring father, a hardworking son, and a devoted friend.
“He was a tough guy, but on the inside he was pretty soft,” said Jay’s brother Chris. “He liked to talk a lot. He would talk about sci-fi and conspiracy theories and things like that. He liked to long-board, and he just really liked to hang out with his family.”
The Michel family grew up in Brick Township, Chris said, before moving to Colts Neck about eight years ago. At Brookdale, Jay was working toward a career in nursing.
Jay was with his family in Toms River on the night of March 7 when he decided to take a short walk, Chris said. When he didn’t return, Chris said he went looking for his brother and found him lying by the road, struck by an as-yet unidentified vehicle. He was 27.
“It was devastating,” Chris said. “Just devastating. It still is.”
Chris was joined at the vigil by his sister, Meghan, his parents Roni and Yolene, and dozens of Jeffrey’s friends and classmates. Mourners solemnly lit candles inscribed with the words “Rest Easy Jay,” and placed them along benches near a campus gazebo. It was a gesture Jay would have appreciated, Chris said.
“He always said that he had no friends. Just family,” he said.
PICTURED (l-r): Roni Michel, Chris Michel and Meghan Michel take part in a vigil for their son and brother on the Lincroft campus.