A Long Island family is feeling the love and support of a community deeply affected by the tragic deaths of an East Patchogue mother and her 14-month-old baby in a car wreck last week.
Hundreds of donors have given to two separate fundraisers to offset the medical expenses for little Joelaya Smoljan-Davenport and the funeral costs for both her and her mother Jacklyn Smoljan, 31.
Smoljan died at the scene of the May 4 accident in Yaphank; Joelaya was pronounced dead later, after attempts to save her life at Long Island Community Hospital and Stony Brook University Hospital.
“Jackie was the light in everyone’s lives, her positivity, strength and courage were unmatched. Her laugh was contagious, her family meant everything to her,” reads a heartfelt dedication on a GoFundMe page established by Smoljan’s employer for the past 12 years, Port Jefferson Family Medicine. “Joelaya was the light in Jackie’s life, like Jackie said ‘I wasn’t ready for you but god knew I needed you.'”
Funeral services for Smoljan and Joelaya will be held Wednesday, May 10, at Robertaccio Funeral Home, 85 Medford Ave. in Patchogue, from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. Closing prayers will be said at the funeral home at 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 11, before the mother and daughter are laid to rest at Washington Memorial Park cemetery in Mount Sinai.
The tragic deaths came less than two years after Smoljan’s father Joe died from COVID-19. Joelaya — nicknamed JoJo by relatives — was named after her grandfather.
“Jackie and Joelaya — we all love you so much, it is so painful and heart breaking that god had other plans for you, the little bit of peace we can find with this is that you are now with your dad and grandpa,” reads the GoFundMe page created by Smoljan’s employer.
Joelaya’s distraught paternal grandmother Sheila DelValle established a second GoFundMe page to provide financial support directly to the Smoljan family.
“I know I am supposed to say how I feel and how this has affected her family but I simply can’t,” she wrote on the page. “Jacky — JoJo’s mom was not ready for her as she often said — but she rose and exceeded any expectation of what being a mom looked like.
“She leaves behind so many that just do not know how to go on,” DelValle continued. “These things do not have a reference point. There is no gauge on how long anything takes or if it ever will pass.”
The two GoFundMe pages created in connection to the tragedy have raised $27,400. To contribute to the fundraisers, click on the links below.
Smoljan is survived by her mother and Joelaya’s grandmother Kathryn Smoljan; her sister and Joelaya’s aunt Stephanie Smoljan; and her niece and nephew (Joelaya’s cousins), Mikaela and Gibson Joseph. Joelaya is additionally survived by her father and “Nana” Sheila DelValle, according to information posted by the funeral home.
On May 4 about 7:35 a.m., Smoljan was driving a 2019 Nissan Sentra northbound on County Road 101 when she struck a southbound 2019 Thomas Built mini bus that was attempting to make a left turn onto Express Drive South.
Joelaya was in a car seat in the backseat of the Nissan.
The driver of the bus, Jose Ducos, 73, of Medford, and Aria Mingo, 61, of Bellport, a matron on the bus, were treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
Top photo: GoFundMe