CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A Long Island honors student accused of being behind the wheel in a fatal hit-and-run crash has been charged with leaving the scene of a deadly accident.
Veronica Borracci, 17, of Dix Hills, was arraigned Friday in Central Islip. The judge set her bond at $100,000.
The crash happened early Thursday around midnight on Broadway at the intersection of Legacy Court in Greenlawn.
Police say Sair Rodriguez, 32, was walking along the shoulder of Greenlawn Street when a car heading south struck him with its passenger-side mirror and kept going. He was taken to the hospital where he later died.
Rodriquez was walking home with his girlfriend from a nearby Northport restaurant where he worked part time as a dishwasher, officials said.
Bosses and co-workers said Rodriquez had a heart of gold, an infectious laugh and big personalty.
“He was an integral part of the success of this restaurant. He’s going to be sorely missed,” said customer Robbin Marra.
“Now two tragic families have to live with this for the rest of their lives,” added Keith Butcher. “It’s terrible.”
Borracci had obtained her driver’s license three weeks before the incident, said her lawyer, and was inexperienced and panicked.
“It was a very dark area on Broadway. (She) indicated she did stop, she looked, she actually spoke to a female, found that the female was not injured and drove away,” said Christopher Cassar, Borracci’s attorney. “She didn’t understand the seriousness of what happened until the next morning when she saw it on the news.”
Police say the Long Island teen admitted to being behind the wheel, but has not yet entered a formal plea.
“First, let me say how sorry we are for the Rodriguez family,” said Patricia Flanagan Borracci, Veronica’s mother. “We cannot express our condolences deeply enough, and I know my daughter feels the same.”
Borraci was to attend SUNY Potsdam in the fall on a full academic scholarship. She graduated from Commack high school in June and is a champion ice skater. She was featured with her family in a newspaper along with their award-winning show dogs.
“She’s never been anything but a joy for us,” said mother Patricia. “She’s a very hard worker, she’s competitive, skates every day, she volunteers.”
“She was at a girlfriend’s house in Huntington,” said Cassar. “They were actually cooking cookies and cupcakes and things like that. No drinking involved, no allegations of drinking or texting.”
Cars zipping along the stretch of Broadway is the norm, according to people who live there. They say the street is no place for pedestrians.
“They’re very high speed driving here,” resident Mohammad Anis told CBS2’s Janelle Burrell.
“There’s really no sidewalks. It’s a busy street,” said resident Lenoria Wilkerson. “Kind of dangerous to walk at night.”
“This intersection particularly, is pretty bad because there really is not a stop light so there’s a lot of people going back and forth,” said resident Danny Montgomery. “It’s a shame that someone got hit.”
It’s not clear if speed was a factor in the case, but residents say accidents are far too common.
“They hit my car and my car hit through the tree,” said Anis, who showed CBS2 pictures of his car that he says was hit 11 days ago while parked in his driveway. He says it’s the second crash to happen on his property within the last year.
It was yet to be determined if Rodriguez’s body will be flown back to his native Honduras for burial.