MAHOPAC, N.Y.— Carmel police have issued several citations to a driver who crashed his car on Wixon Pond Road in the early morning hours of Monday, Jan. 9, and left the scene, only to be found several hours later wandering down Route 6 and suffering from the effects of the frigid temperatures.
Bill Nikisher, first assistant chief of the Mahopac Fire Department, said that the call for the accident came around 3 a.m. and when first-responders arrived, the car was on fire.
“It was fully involved when we got there,” he said. “But the driver’s side door was open and no one was there.”
Nikisher said the car had veered off the road and crashed into a utility pole, severing the pole in half. Before firefighters could fight the blaze, they had to wait for New York State Electric & Gas crews to come and turn off the power.
“We just had to stand around and watch it burn,” he said.
Power was out in the neighborhood for around two hours.
Carmel Police Chief Michael Cazzari said that investigators were able to read the vehicle’s license plate and determine the car’s owner via the registration. With that information, they were able to ascertain the registrant’s cell phone number.
“We tried calling it but it would go straight to voice mail,” he said.
Concerned that the driver may have been dazed and wandered away in the frigid temperatures, they “pinged” the phone, using the area cell towers to triangulate where the phone was located, but could still not locate the phone.
Carazzi said police visited the driver’s home and other locations he might be, but he still couldn’t find him.
“In the end, at 6:30 a.m. we get a call there is a person walking on Route 6 in the area of Crane Road and [that turned out to be the driver],” Cazzari said. “He was evaluated by EMS but he refused to go to the hospital.”
Cazzari said the driver told police he had been texting when he went off the road and said he had had one beer. Cazzari said the police report stated alcohol likely contributed to the accident, but the driver couldn’t be charged with DWI because it wasn’t until hours after the crash that he was located.
“They could have tested him, but he could have said he didn’t drink until after the crash,” the chief said. “You can’t have a DWI that many hours later.”
Police did not release the name of the driver, who was eventually issued tickets for speeding, texting while driving, and leaving the scene of an accident.