Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I would have stopped........

"I was just bringing my friend home and it all happened so fast, but I didn't hit anyone," stated Jose Antonio Santiago.

Santiago, 33, was driving his 2003 Saab 9-5 on Airport Rd in Hanover Township, Lehigh County PA at around 9 pm on March 15 2015 when he hit two women walking on the eastern side of the road.  Allentown resident Anna Lewis, 62 and her sister Rosalie Carlo, 51 of Brooklyn NY were both injured but Santiago did not stop after he hit them.  Police did find the right hand mirror, front grill, right headlight, part of a window and various other debris from his vehicle at the site of the accident.  Carlo was not injured that severely but her sister Anna was fatally injured in the hit and run.

Similar Saab 9-5

At about 10:24 pm, an officer spotted a Saab with extensive front end damage parked in the 1800 block of Cloverdale Rd in Bethlehem PA.  When the trooper looked inside the damaged vehicle he spotted the top of a woman's head and a gloved hand on the passenger side floor.  The coroner arrived at the scene and when the woman's torso was removed from the car, they were able to identify it as belonging to Lewis.  The car they had found was registered to Santiago and the police began searching for him.

Santiago approached a trooper on Cloverdale Rd at about 12:30 am and identified himself as well as stating that he owned the car they were investigating.  He stated that he had watched WFMZ News and they had reported on a hit and run accident.  He went on to state that he had had a couple of beers at Stooges Bar in Allentown and left there to drive a friend home.  Santiago stated that he did not hit anyone while driving, he was not a bad person and he would have stopped if he had hit anyone.  The police noticed that he smelled of alcohol and that he had reddish body matter on his right pant leg.

Rosalie Carlo was in PA to visit with her ailing mother and Anna Lewis and her had just finished eating dinner at the nearby Red Robin before the accident.  The two were walking along the side of the road when Carlo states she saw a bright light and felt an enormous push like a Mack truck.  The next thing she remembers is a boy asking her questions and telling her that they were going to get help for her.  Carlo does remember not seeing her sister Anna and asking the boy to find her.  Unfortunately the impact of Santiago's car severed Anna's body in two with the torso ending up inside of the car.  Carlo was taken to the hospital with a broken arm, leg injuries and other injuries that do not appear to be life threatening but may take her a long time to recover from.

The police did not release any information on Monday as to how they believe Lewis's torso got into the car, whether Santiago had been tested for alcohol, if excessive speed was involved or if he was the only occupant when the accident occurred.  They did state that the accident is still under investigation.  Santiago is being held with $275,000 bond with multiple charges and his next court date is scheduled for March 23 2015.

An accident similar to this happened in Fort Worth TX in 2001 when the body of Greg Biggs was found in a city park on October 27th.  The police believed that Biggs, 37 and homeless, had been the victim of a standard hit and run accident.  There were no leads and it seemed that the case would turn cold.  There finally was an arrest in March 2002 when a tip came into the police that Chante Mallard, 25, had talked about being involved in the accident at a party a month earlier.

Mallard, a nurse's aide from Fort Worth had struck Biggs on a Fort Worth highway and he was thrown through the windshield of her car.  She stated that she panicked and drove the 3 miles back to her home and parked the car in the garage.  She left Biggs wedged in the windshield and his broken legs hanging out onto the hood of the car for two days.  The coroner stated that he would have lived if he had received medical attention but Mallard left him to die in her car, ignoring his pleas for help until he died of loss of blood.

She then had friends dump his body in the city park where it was found but left the 1997 Chevy Cavalier parked in the garage with the damaged windshield, hair and blood all over it.  In June 2003, it took a jury about an hour to find Mallard guilty of murder and tampering with evidence.  She was sentenced to 50 years for the hit and run of Biggs and for dumping his body after he had died without her help.  Her apologies to Biggs's son and family fell on deaf ears and a courtroom sat stunned to learn of the circumstances of Biggs's death.

One can only hope that the investigation will be completed quickly and the families be able to heal.  As for Santiago.......... I am not sure that 50 years would be enough for an accident that brutal.

Update March 18 2015:

Rosalie in center

Anna on left

Rosalie Carlo has stated that she hopes that Santiago rots in hell for what he did to her sister Anna.  Both of them had been hit by Santiago but Anna had been hit so hard that her body was severed at about the waist.  The lower half of her body was found along with the debris and auto parts that had been torn from his car.  The police have not made any more statements as to his condition when they found him but there can be little doubt that he had to be under the influence of something to still try and claim he did not hit anyone when he is covered in blood and has part of his victim in the front seat of the car.

Update March 20 2015:

The Lehigh County coroner has ruled that Anna died from blunt force injuries and that her death was an accident.  She died at 9:36 pm after being struck by the car while walking on the shoulder of the road.  The police are still investigating the accident to see if speed or alcohol played a part in the accident and so far, Santiago is being held on the hit and run charge.

Santiago has a criminal history that dates back to 1998 and includes convictions for receiving stolen property and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.  In 200 he was convicted of robbery and simple assault after he pleaded down from numerous charges.  In 2009 he was again charged with various charges that he pleaded down to theft and simple assault and again violated his probation and was returned to jail.  In 2012 he pleaded guilty to drunken driving with a BAC of 0.16 and was sentenced to three days to one month in jail.

The police expect to charge him with additional charges in relation to this gruesome accident and hopefully he will receive a jail sentence that will prevent him from getting behind the wheel of a car for a very long time.


alia52nalie said...

Such a tragic story and may Anna’s soul rest in peace. Going through this post recalled a similar accident case in my mind which happened when I was working with a DUI lawyer. Though in that case, the driver was drunk but nothing is proven in this one.

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