AMHERST, N.Y. (WKBW) — Charismatic, courageous and full of love. That's how friends describe 29-year-old Charles 'Chuck' Elardo.
"He was the life of the party. His smile was infectious," David Dombrowski, Elardo's friend, said.
It was early Sunday morning when Amherst police were called to Thistle Lea after receiving reports of a man lying in the street. He was taken to ECMC where he died of his injuries. Police identified that man as Elardo.
"It still hasn't really processed that he's really gone," Dombrowski said.
Dombrowski has been friends with Elardo for about a decade. They met on University at Buffalo's lacrosse team. Elardo played there after graduating from Williamsville South.
"He was attack and I played goalie so we were always not that far from each other in practice. I always joked with him to take it on me easy this morning. It's 6 o'clock in the morning and it's 40 or 30 below degrees," Dombrowski said.
But Elardo was much more than a teammate.
"He definitely impacted me in the way of a sibling, just made me always try to lead by example, setting ways that way," Dombrowski said.
Dombrowski moved away from Buffalo, but the pandemic brought him back. He's thankful for the extra time he got to spend with Elardo.
"He's like one of those guys if you haven't seen each other in a really long time when you guys get back together it's like you never really left. We picked up right where we left off and we shared a lot of laughs and memories and hugged it out," Dombrowski said.
Garin Smith, another one of Elardo's friends, said, "Charles was one of the most genuine people I've ever met. One of the last things he mentioned to me a while ago was that he wants to become a more positive influence in the community and be present in each others' lives. He did just that. No matter if you considered him a close friend or an acquaintance, he would embrace you like family. Charles was always the glue that held us together during the tougher times. It's absolutely heartbreaking to everyone who had the pleasure of meeting him to learn of his passing. He touched the lives of an innumerable amount of people and will be deeply missed. I hope his family can find solace in knowing that they raised a wonderful person who was loved by everyone he met."
"I think it just shows how much he influenced and impacted everyone's life and how he touched everybody," Dombrowski said.
Amherst Police said one of the theories they're exploring is a possible hit and run, but the investigation is still ongoing.
Police encourage anyone with information to call 716-689-1311.