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New Jersey man, convicted of 2012 hit and run, lied to police

Leaving the scene of an accident or fatality is the first of a series of irresponsible actions. By running or driving away, a Bergen County driver neglects to provide what could be life-saving aid to a crash victim. Fleeing drivers often don't report accidents, which means injured victims suffer longer or die without help.

A New Jersey man was convicted recently of causing and lying about a March 2012 hit-and-run crash. A 28-year-old Passaic woman and 35-year-old Brooklyn man died when the defendant's car mowed down the pedestrians in Clifton. The pair was walking along Route 46, after spending the night at a club with two other friends.

The female victim and her boyfriend apparently got into an argument while heading home with the friends in a car. The boyfriend and another female stayed with the car, as the others walked away. The sound of a crash was heard moments later.

The bodies of the pedestrians were found with no car in sight. Police said the 44-year-old male defendant drove away without stopping. Accident investigators, using left-behind shattered car parts and DNA material, tracked down the driver weeks later, but the man denied involvement in the car collision.

When authorities questioned why the defendant's Cadillac was in a body shop, the man said he had struck a deer. A jury did not believe the defense attorney's story that the car picked up pedestrian-linked DNA by casually passing through the crash scene. Jurors also didn't believe the victims played a role in their own deaths by walking while intoxicated.

The defendant quickly was convicted of leaving a fatal accident scene, evidence tampering, hindering apprehension and endangering injured victims. A judge ordered the emotionless driver held in jail until sentencing. Liability claims against hit-and-run drivers can result in large damage awards, since proof is clear the defendant did not consider anyone's safety other than his own.

Source: The Record, "Paterson man convicted in fatal Clifton hit-and-run" Kibret Markos, Apr. 23, 2014

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