GoFundMe created for family of teen who died in crash

WEST MILFORD. Alex Schechter was 18 and a recent graduate of West Milford High School.

| 06 Jul 2022 | 10:30

Last week, tragedy struck the West Milford community when reports came in that an 18-year-old resident died in a car crash on Skyline Drive in Oakland, N.J. The teen has since been identified as recent West Milford High School graduate, Alex Schechter.

Now a family friend, Valerie Schiffino, whose son was friends with Schechter, has established a GoFundMe to help raise funds for funeral and related expenses that the family has incurred.

“Alex had a heart of gold. No matter where he was, his extremely infectious smile would bring anyone so much joy. One of the kindest and friendliest souls. He touched the hearts of many,” Schiffino wrote. “He was very excited about college and had his whole life ahead of him. He was extremely proud and passionate about being a part of his varsity fencing team, tennis team and being a Life Scout for Troop 159.”

The fundraiser started with a goal of $10,000, which was met almost immediately. As of the afternoon of July 6, the fundraiser had garnered 225 donations, for a total of $12,060. (The GoFundMe can be found at the following link: bit.ly/3yI2VoH.)

“We are asking for any amount of donation, to help his father and family with any funeral/memorial expenses, to allow them to grieve without the monetary worries,” Schiffino added. “Thank you for taking the time to read this and for any donations. Our hearts go out to his family, friends and teammates. He will be remembered forever.”

According to police reports of the incident, Schechter was reportedly driving a Toyota Corolla southbound on Skyline Drive when he crossed the double-yellow line and hit a Ford van heading northbound. The driver of the van suffered minor injuries and was taken to Hackensack University Medical Center.

Schechter was transferred via a medical chopper to St. Joseph’s University Medical Center in Paterson, where he was pronounced dead.

In his obituary, Schechter was described as having “a deep, profound love and understanding of music, learning to play multiple instruments.” His obituary also describes Schechter’s discovery of being transgender: “As he traveled along his journey of life he discovered he was transgender. His decision to become a man started with his name change hence Alex. He chose to dive into who he was with no fear or regret. His strength in adversity was inspiring.”

The obituary added, “Alex had a simper and a smirk that always possessed an innate ability to light up every room he entered. Along with his laughter, his kindness, empathy and abundant generosity was enormous and left no one he encountered along his journey untouched.”

Schechter joined Boy Scout Troop 159 in 2019 and was striving for Eagle Scout status, earning several merit badges to achieve that goal. As his obituary put it, “He has grown in our community and our community has grown from him.”

Schechter also leaves behind his father, Leo L. Schechter, of Hewitt.

A memorial service is currently planned for July 16, from 1 to 4 p.m. at Richards Funeral Home (1440 Union Valley Road, West Milford).