Suspect in Massachusetts fatal hit-and-run had record, Part 1

There are accidents, and then there are habits. Some are saying that the Taunton, Massachusetts, man who is accused of hitting and killing a 17-year-old skateboarder with his car before driving off has a habit of being a dangerous driver, and his license should have been taken away long ago.

The accident occurred in Taunton last week on Bay Road around 9:40 p.m. near the entrance to Watson Pond. The 17-year-old was discovered by a friend who found him lying in the street. Soon after that night, the young man was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Desperately seeking answers, the family of the young man pleaded publicly for the driver responsible to turn themselves in. Two days later, after neighbors reported seeing the 55-year-old suspect repairing severe damage to the front of his car, police acted on a tip and arrested the man.

On Monday, the suspect’s bail was set at $100,000 after the victim’s family gasped when the prosecutor went through the man’s notable criminal record and a driving record that the prosecutor called “one of the worst” he had ever seen.

The man’s criminal record included operating under the influence, shoplifting, and “numerous license suspensions.” His nine-page driving record listed many surchargeable accidents and citations for driving without a license, leaving the scene of accidents and speeding, which the man had accumulated over the past 22 years.

At the bail hearing, where the suspect pleaded not guilty to hit-and-run, his attorney told the court that his client had thought he had hit an animal that night, and definitely would have stopped if he knew he had hit a person.

But the prosecutor described how the man reportedly told police that he had “made a mistake” after he was arrested and admitted hitting the young man.

Check back later this week for more on this issue, including the fact that the suspect could continue to drive even if convicted.

Primary Source: Boston Herald, “‘Outrageous’ law could let hit-run suspect drive again,” John Zaremba and Chris Cassidy, Aug. 10, 2011. Secondary Source: Boston Herald, “Prosecutor: accused hit-and-run driver’s record ‘one of the worst I’ve seen.'” Marie Szaniszlo, Aug. 8, 2011.