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Investigator Charged in Fatal Upstate Hit-and-Run

A man who worked as an investigator for the Onondaga County District Attorney’s office has been fired after it was discovered that he was the driver in a fatal hit-and-run collision in Syracuse. Two other men were with him, including a Syracuse firefighter who has been suspended without pay over his connection to the incident. The crash, which happened in the dark early morning hours of March 21, left a local teenager in critical condition; he later died of his injuries.

Left the Scene, Avoided Police

The car that struck the victim, eighteen-year-old Seth Collier, belonged to the county but was approved for use by the driver. It was found in the parking lot of a club not far from the scene of the accident, and the court filing indicates that the driver’s ID and cell phone were inside.

In a new development in the case, it’s believed that two of the driver’s friends witnessed the accident, and that all three left the scene while the victim lay in the street unconscious and bleeding from a serious head injury. The two friends were found at the club only a block away, but police are said to have banged on the door for nearly an hour before the two men inside responded. The driver, who allegedly fled on foot after the crash, was picked up by police several hours later.

Immediate Consequences

There have been reports that the men had been to at least two nearby bars before the crash, but so far there have been no public charges related to driving under the influence. The driver who struck Collier was charged with leaving the scene of a fatal accident. He was also fired immediately after the incident by the county DA—not because he had committed a crime (he is, after all, innocent until proven guilty), but because he did not report the accident involving a county vehicle to his superiors.

The penalties he might face if convicted of a fatal hit-and-run could be far worse than losing his job. A fine of up to $5,000 can be levied, as well as up to seven years in prison. Although both of the man’s friends witnessed the crash and left the scene, it appears that there is no crime they can be charged with.

Traffic Fatalities on the Rise

Hit-and-runs continue to be a serious problem in New York State, although hard numbers are difficult to come by. In 2015, however, there were nearly 40,000 hit-and-runs in New York City alone. Most of those involved other vehicles or stationary objects, but more than 5,000 resulted in an injury and thirty-eight led to deaths.

The trend across the United States as a whole has not been good, with total crash fatalities for 2016 expected to be up 8 to 10 percent over 2015’s numbers, which were up more than 7 percent over the previous year. The highway death toll might exceed 40,000 for the first time in nearly a decade. The state of New York saw 1,121 fatalities in 2015, but it won’t be a surprise if the number increases when the final data for 2016 have been collected.

New York City Car Accident Lawyer

At Greenstein & Milbauer, LLP, we understand car accident cases, whether they involve a single driver striking a pedestrian or a complex crash with many vehicles and people. When you or someone close to you has been harmed in an auto accident, give us a call at 1-800-VICTIM2 (842-8462). We give every client a free consultation to discuss their individual case. Pick up the phone or contact us online through the form below to schedule your appointment.

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