ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Monday was the first day back to school for students at Colonie Central High School after an emotional weekend.
Sixteen-year-old Niko Dinovo was seriously burned after a car he was riding in crashed into a local tavern and burst into flames. The driver of that vehicle has been charged with vehicular assault and driving while impaired.
Dinovo is being treated at Westchester Medical Center’s burn unit, but his friends at home were pulling for him on Monday at Colonie Central.
The school’s library was turned into a card-making factory. The cards will be delivered to Westchester Medical Center in the hopes they’ll help put a smile on Dinovo’s face.
Students said it was a particularly appropriate gesture, because Dinovo was known in the halls of Colonie Central for showing others he cared.
“We’re doing this because we love him so much,” said Amanda Flood, one of his friends. “He’s my brother.”
Through words of encouragement, and often through tears, Dinovo’s friends are holding out hope for him to heal.
“Niko can do this,” Flood said. “He’s strong and he’s going to pull through this. We love you Niko!”
Dinovo was a passenger in the car police said caused a fiery crash at the Blessings Tavern Friday night.
Although he survived the crash, Dinovo’s friends said he still has a long road to recovery.
His classmates dressed in his favorite colors of pink and blue on Monday. They also raised money to help pay for his medical bills by selling ribbons and t-shirts.
“I got everybody together, all of our friends, and we’re going to try to as a community come together and be there for Niko,” Flood said.
“We’re just having everybody support him and be there for him,” friend Shylyne Degorge said.
Colonie Central’s principal said the school has provided counseling, and he’s amazed at the strength he’s seen on the first day back to class since the incident.
“They’re really leaning on one another to come up with ideas and things they can do,” Principal Chris Robilotti said. “I’m not surprised, but very proud of what I see today and what I know is going to continue for the foreseeable future.”
The GoFundMe site that was started for Dinovo has already raised more than $24,000.