Residents are raising money for Dionisio “Dio” Encarnacion, who was struck in a hit-and-run accident.
A local bartender in Hamlin is in need — but an unexpected family is there to support him.
Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine bartender and Horizon West resident Dionisio “Dio” Encarnacion is getting back on his feet with the help of his customers and neighbors after being struck by a car while walking home after work last month.
Encarnacion, who can stand but still needs a wheelchair to move, said he was walking home from the Bosphorous location in Hamlin — about two miles away — the night of Sunday, Sept. 8, when he was struck by a car while crossing a street.
The bartender said he doesn’t remember what happened at the time of being hit — the driver fled the scene.
“I remember that I crossed the street, and then I saw a flash — I didn’t see the car,” Encarnacion said. “When I woke up, I see many things attached to my body. I was at the hospital.”
Encarnacion awoke with an injured ligament in his right knee, a fractures pelvis, a hip fracture and seven fractured ribs.
Despite the injuries, Encarnacion is thankful to be alive.
“I’m not looking for any lawsuit; I’m not looking for any retaliation,” he said. “I feel so blessed. I was in the emergency unit, and I saw people with brain damage, and people that were not allowed to walk again.”
TENDING TO A BARTENDER
Over the past sixth months working at the Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine in Hamlin, Encarnacion earned a reputation for bringing people together.
Linda Sibley, who started going to Bosphorous on Fridays for happy hour after with her husband, immediately noticed Encarnacion’s knack for introducing people to one another.
“We met Dio, and he’s just an amazing, incredibly effervescent young man,” she said. “He’s so personable. As soon as you sit down at the bar, he doesn’t care who you are — he’s just so welcoming. His smile is contagious.
“Everybody at the bar started talking to him as if he was their best friend,” Sibley said. “Over the months, we just realized that’s how he is.”
Gerry DeLand, a regular Bosphorous customer, noticed the same about Encarnacion, a native of Puerto Rico.
“He’s welcoming, he’s attentive to folks, and he’s very conscious of introducing you to the person sitting next to you or the person across the way,” DeLand said. “He remembers little tidbits about everybody. … He’s just introducing folks because everybody’s new in the area. He really is an icebreaker for a lot of the folks that come in.”
After hearing about the incident, customers of Bosphorous started to come to his aid. An initial conversation between some of the frequent customers led to an initial donation of about $1,000 to Encarnacion to help pay for his physical therapy and other expenses, DeLand said.
A GoFundMe page was started by Sibley, as well, raising $1,850, so far, out of a $5,000 goal.
“He just touched so many people by his personality and his effervescence,” Sibley said. “When I heard about it, I just thought ‘I have to try. I have to figure out the GoFundMe.’ It’s at times like this when we can all draw that line in the sand and say ‘This is when I’m stepping up to help a neighbor.’”
Sibley and several other residents have planned a fundraising event, scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 24, at Bosphorous, located at 16418 New Independence Parkway, Winter Garden. The local bartender, who is expected to move with a walker in the coming weeks, is beyond thankful for all the support and love.
“Look at how life surprises you — I’m blessed,” Encarnacion said. “I’ve never seen this in my life — even in Puerto Rico, my country, I’ve never seen this amount of love and care from people.”