Donations surge for family of beloved nail salon manager killed in Deer Park crash


Donations are pouring in for a father and business manager killed in the horrific Deer Park nail salon crash on Friday that left four people dead and nine others injured.

Jianchai Chen was Hawaii Nail & Spa’s humorous and kindhearted manager. Affectionately known as “Ken” and “Kenny” to customers, Chen’s friendly disposition set a relaxing tone for visits to the nail salon at 794 Grand Blvd.

Chen’s nephew Vincent Zheng established a GoFundMe fundraiser over the weekend that has raised more than $20,000 for Chen’s wife and two young children, aged 10 and 5. According to Zheng, Chen’s wife suffered traumatic injuries when an SUV allegedly driven by a drunk driver smashed through the nail salon’s front window. Wen Jun Cheng, 35, remains hospitalized, police said.

“Doctors have indicated that her recovery will take at least one to two years,” Zheng wrote on the GoFundMe page for the Bayside, Queens, family. “My uncle left behind two very young children, a 10-year-old and a 5-year-old. With the shop completely destroyed and their mother suffering from critical back and hip injuries, the family has lost their only source of income.”

Meanwhile, Hawaii Nail & Spa on its Instagram account has posted surveillance camera video that captures a sideview of the moment of impact in Friday afternoon’s crash. The post mentions the GoFundMe page established for the Chen family.

Warning: the video in the post below contains content that might upset some viewers.

“Any amount of donation will go directly towards supporting my uncle’s family, helping cover living expenses, and providing for the children’s needs as their mother recovers,” Zheng said.

Hawaii Nail & Spa customer Patricia Castillo commented on the GoFundMe page for Chen that he was so friendly that her grandson called him “Uncle Ken.”

“That’s how they made us feel, like family,” Castillo wrote. “Not only did I go but my husband, daughters and granddaughters as well cause they were the best! … We will miss him dearly.”

Another client commented about how comfortable Chen and other staffers at the nail salon made her feel.

“I will forever cherish the memories walking into Hawaii nail salon and seeing Kenny and the rest of the staff with a kind hearted smile,” she wrote. “I always looked forward to my appointments cause it was a safe place to be at peace and appreciate a good conversation.”

Yan Xu, 41, and Meizi Zhang, 50, both of Flushing, Queens, and off-duty NYPD officer Emilia Rennhack of Deer Park also died in the crash at the nail salon.

Steven Schwally, 64, of Dix Hills is charged with DWI, police said. He appeared in court today, sitting in a wheelchair and wearing hospital clothes, according to a CBS News New York report.

Prosecutors in court went over the seconds leading up to the crash, saying Schwally “accelerated at a high rate of speed … drove in the opposite lane of travel … nearly struck pedestrians … continued through the intersection, went airborne” into the packed nail salon, CBS New New York reported.

Additionally, prosecutors said Schwally’s breath smelled of alcohol and he had slurred speech when he was interviewed following the crash, according to multiple news reports. He is being held on $1 million bail.

A candlelight vigil for the victims is scheduled for tonight at 7 p.m. outside the nail salon.

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