People ask Toni Briffa a lot of questions about her son, Anthony. It pains her to be unable to answer many of them, eight months after he died when a car hit him while he was riding his skateboard on Jordan Road.
"It seems that nothing's getting done," Briffa said recently, tearing up as another month has gone by without any resolution to the legal case stemming from the May 11 accident.
Patrick Doyle, a 54-year-old Brick resident, is accused of driving while intoxicated at the time of the crash. Prosecutors have not announced criminal charges in the case, and the DWI case has yet to be heard in court.
The slow speed of the wheels of justice have taken a toll on the family, Briffa said.
"It's just been eight months of hell," she said. "I live in the same town. I panic."
Life is a mix of good memories, but also frustration and grief, family members told Brick Patch. There are happy recollections of Anthony, who was 19 when he died, but frustration and anger that so many legal loose ends remain.
"I miss my best friend," said Maria Briffa, Anthony's older sister. "It hurts knowing that he was taken from me and nothing significant has been done. He died while I was taking final exams at school and we had plans to get smoothies during [summer] break. We'll never get that opportunity."
Anthony Briffa was well-known in the local area. He was a eucharistic minister at St. Dominic's Church and attended classes at Ocean County College.
"There's a Mass every week for Anthony at church," Toni Briffa said.
"I knew he had a lot of friends but I didn't know that he influenced people that didn't know his name, but knew him from running around Brick and Point," said Maria Briffa. "All the support has been amazing. I love hearing stories about him from people that he's helped or influenced in any way."
Memories only go so far, however. Maria Briffa recently started a Facebook page, Justice for Anthony Briffa, publicly asking for movement in the legal case.
Toni Briffa said she has met with prosecutors, but hasn't gotten any solid answers about how the situation will play out.
According to a statement from Capt. Thomas Hayes, of the prosecutor's office, at the time of the accident, an initial investigation showed that Briffa may have been riding near the shoulder, but in a lane of traffic when he was struck, an aspect of the case which Toni Briffa disputes.
Doyle, who resigned a part-time job with Brick Township after the DWI charge was filed, was also issued summonses for reckless driving, making an unsafe lane change and driving an unregistered vehicle.
Executive Assistant Ocean County Prosecutor Michael Paulhus had no comment on the case when contacted by Brick Patch. He said the DWI case against Doyle has not been resolved since it could lead to double jeopardy issues should other charges be filed.
Members of the Briffa family are planning a memorial in March to mark what would have been Anthony's 20th birthday. Toni Briffa said she's hoping to volunteer with Mothers Against Drunk Driving in the future.
"Every 11th of the month is a heartache for me," she said. "You sit back and say, 'these things don't happen to me. How could this happen to me?'"
Maria Briffa said she's still heeding her brother's advice: "He always taught me to have hope no matter what, and to keep a good mindset."