Dad killed, mom severely injured in Deer Park nail salon crash: 'We were such a happy family'

In a brief, horrific moment described by witnesses as a "violent explosion," the 37-year-old father of two young children was dead; their mother, critically injured.

The father, Jiancai "Ken" Chen, was one of four people killed when a drunk driver plowed into the nail salon Chen owned in Deer Park, Long Island, on Friday. His wife, Wen Jun Cheng, was one of nine injured in the crash that sent "bodies everywhere" inside Hawaii Nail & Spa on Grand Boulevard.

Click here to navigate to the victims' GoFundMe pages.

Lawmakers are now demanding life in prison for 64-year-old Steve Schwally, who was charged with driving while intoxicated and held on $2 million bond Monday.

"Throw the book at the selfish bastard," New York State Senator John Liu demanded. "With one action, he selfishly, criminally, and recklessly destroyed the lives of so many families, including one of New York's finest. Throw the book at this guy and put him away forever." 

Here is what we know about those victims:

Jiancai "Ken" Chen, 37

The 37-year-old father, the owner of the now-destroyed Hawaii Nail & Spa, lived in Bayside, Queens, and leaves behind two very young children, ages 10 and 5.

"We were such a happy family. Now it’s all crushed," his brother, Steven Chen, said through tears at a Monday press conference.

Steven Chen cries while talking about his brother, Ken.

"I don't know which language to use to describe how I feel," Ken's sister Vicky added.

Doctors estimate that the recovery of Ken Chen's wife will take at least one to two years, according to a GoFundMe page created by his nephew.

"With the shop completely destroyed and their mother suffering from critical back and hip injuries, the family has lost their only source of income," his nephew, Vincent Zheng, wrote.

Emilia Rennhack, 34

NYPD officer and Deer Park resident Emilia Rennhack worked in the NYPD’s 102nd precinct in Queens and had served on the force since 2018, officials said.

Rennhack was recently married and was getting her nails done for another officer's wedding when she was killed, according to the New York Post.

At Schwally's arraignment on Monday, her widower, NYPD officer Det. Carl Rennhack, cried as a fellow detective consoled him.

"He’s in bad shape," a police source told the Post of the grieving spouse. "His wife was his life."

Her funeral is scheduled for July 6 at 12 p.m. at the New Hyde Park Funeral Home, the NYC PBA said on X.

"Our hearts are breaking following the tragic loss of our 102 Pct. sister P.O. Emilia Rennhack in an off-duty incident yesterday," the New York Police Benevolent Association wrote on Facebook. 

Yan "Jenny" Xu, 41


Xu lived in Flushing, Queens, and worked as a nail technician at Hawaii Nail & Spa.

According to a GoFundMe page, Xu leaves behind a 12-year-old son with poliomyelitis. She also supported her 70-year-old father, who cannot speak English.

"We cannot believed that we lost her forever," her sister Shihua Yang posted to the GoFundMe. "I was hang out with her last week, we talked a lot, and her dreams in the future, but that could not be come ture. Until now, I still think that is a dream. I also hope it was a dream."

Meizi Zhang, 50

Xhang also lived in Flushing, Queens, and worked as a nail technician at Hawaii Nail & Spa.

"Yan Xu and Meizi Zhang, also victims, were hard-working individuals full of dreams," Harriette Lo, who created a GoFundMe page on behalf of the Federation of Chinese American Associations posted.

Who else was injured?

Nine others were hospitalized after the incident unfolded.

Nicole Miele, 54, Ana Garcia, 53, Wen Jun Cheng, 35, and Michael Mehale, 58, are all being treated at area hospitals for serious but not life-threatening injuries. 

Carol Garcia, 23, Toni Saccente, 32, Krystal Rodriguez, 37, Nicole Saccente, 55, and a 12-year-old girl whose identity is being withheld, were also treated.

Vigil for the victims

A candlelight vigil was held Monday night on Long Island for the victims of Friday's crash in Deer Park that left four people dead, a poster outside the nail salon said.

Elected officials in the city told FOX 5 they are trying to expedite visas for family members who live abroad to attend funeral services.

GoFundMe links