GARFIELD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Police have made an arrest after a man with special needs was struck by a hit-and-run driver in New Jersey and died from his injuries on Wednesday.

Paul Frischer, 59, of Franklin Lakes, N.J., faces multiple charges including leaving the scene of a fatal accident and endangering an injured victim.

Killed in the crash was Giovanni Rivera, a 42-year-old man who family and friends say carried a sparkle in his eye.

Paul Frischer (credit: Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office)

Relatives said Giovanni passed away early in the morning surrounded by loved ones. Their grief was compounded, knowing he was left lying in the street by the driver who struck him.

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“The person that took his life, that left him in the street, should have never did this,” Giovanni’s mother, Gloria Rivera, said. “You should’ve stopped there and waited and called 911.”

A sign in town flashed the words “Hit & Run on MacArthur Avenue in Garfield, N.J.” That’s where Rivera was struck by an SUV at around 7pm on Monday.

Surveillance video shows a dark-colored SUV that police believe was the vehicle that hit him.

When emergency crews arrived they found Rivera lying in the street with serious injuries. He was rushed to Hackensack University Medical Center.

A neighbor across the street said he was home when the crash happened and rushed outside.

“I came down quickly because I know Giovanni just from being around, seeing him, and it’s such a terrible tragedy in this area,” Salvatore Vertuzzeo said. “I’d see him kicking the soccer ball around. He always would wave, engaged with the people.”

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Rivera lived at a group home for people with disabilities for more than a decade, his family said.

CBS2’s Valerie Castro stopped by Frischer’s home to see if anyone would speak on his behalf, but it appeared no one was there. It remained unclear why he may have left the scene, but residents who live where the crash happened say speed is a big problem in the area despite a speed limit of 25 miles per hour.

“It stinks we can’t even come out and enjoy a day and have kids play without worrying about someone coming,” neighbor Lauren DeLorenzo said. “They’ll be going 50-60 miles per hour.”

Whatever the reason, Giovanni’s family remains hopeful that justice will be served.


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