Tappan Zee Bridge wrong-way passenger has $400G bill, is suing driver

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    wrong-wayThe girlfriend of Michael Schechel, the wrong-way driver on the Tappan Zee Bridge who killed a woman and injured her husband, has racked up more than $400,000 in medical bills from injuries sustained in the July crash and continues to pursue legal action against Schechel.

    Luz Hoffman, a passenger in Schechel’s Ford Explorer, has asked a court to find Schechel negligent in the head-on crash that left her with fractures to her spine, pelvis, ribs and left foot, said her lawyer, Jacob Oresky. Schechel, 69, of Thiells, was arrested Thursday and charged with criminally negligent homicide in the death of 56-year-old Hannah Ayeh-Brachie of Hillcrest, a passenger in the Nissan he hit.

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    “It’s clear that Michael Schechel was negligent and the court should decide as a matter of law he was negligent and should proceed forward and just have a trial on damages,” said Oresky, who filed a motion for partial summary judgment at the end of January in state Supreme Court in the Bronx. Hoffman initially filed suit against Schechel in August. The recent motion says it’s “undisputed” he was driving the wrong way July 23 and “there are no material” issues of fact to be determined at trial.

    Schechel also is being sued in state Supreme Court in Rockland County by Ayeh-Brachie’s husband, 58-year-old Newman Ayeh-Brachie, who was driving the Nissan. He too is alleging Schechel was negligent.

    Neither Schechel nor Sara Salvi, his lawyer in the civil cases, could be reached Friday.

    Hoffman, 57, lived with Schechel, dated him for five years and also was his nurse. He has a host of medical issues including asthma, lupus and lung disease. In an interview with The Journal News in August, Schechel called Hoffman “the most important person in my entire life.” Oresky did not have details on the couple’s current relationship. Hoffman’s injuries, Oresky said, are “permanent.”

    “We’re hopeful that she’s going to make somewhat of a recovery, but she’s never going to be the same,” Oresky said.

    Hoffman has more than $382,000 in medical expenses at Westchester Medical Center, more than $42,000 at Nyack Hospital and an undetermined amount from the Franklin Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Flushing, where she was staying as recently as January, court filings say. Those expenses were at least partially paid by insurance.

    Schechel, who was released without bail, is due April 7 in South Nyack Village Court

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