The driver in a hit-and-run crash that claimed the life of a Peconic Landing woman last July has pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter and other charges, court records show.
Denilson Eduardo Gomez Jolon, 20, of Greenport pleaded guilty before Acting Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Timothy Mazzei on Tuesday.
Mr. Gomez Jolon was initially charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death and unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle after he was spotted by police returning to Greenport 12 hours after the July 13 crash that claimed the life of 87-year-old Peconic Landing resident Elaine Schwartz.
Mr. Gomez Jolon said at his July arraignment that he is a native of Guatemala who had lived in the United States for 14 months. He worked on a landscaping crew and said in a statement to police that he is “here illegally.” Unlicensed, he said he bought his 2004 Honda Civic about five months before the crash, court records show.
Second-degree manslaughter is a class C non-violent felony carrying a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. Mr. Gomez Jolon also pleaded guilty to a felony charge for leaving the scene of the crash and infractions for driving without a license or insurance.
Mr. Gomez Jolon, who did not post his $100,000 cash bail, will likely remain in jail until his sentencing March 30.
Ms. Schwartz was struck while crossing at the corner of Front and Third streets, police said. Mr. Gomez Jolon was making a right turn onto Front Street from Third Street.
The vehicle continued driving westbound on Front Street following the 7:20 a.m. crash, police said.
Ms. Schwartz was transported to Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital where she succumbed to her injuries, police said.
Mr. Gomez Jolon said in a three-page statement to police, written with the assistance of a translator, that he was driving to a dentist appointment at the time of the crash.
“As I make the turn I see a woman stepping out into the street,” his statement reads. “I tried to stop, but I couldn’t. It was too late …. I got scared, I thought I killed her. So I drove away.”
Mr. Gomez Jolon said that as he looked in the passenger side view mirror he saw Ms. Schwartz standing up and “thought she was OK.”
“I felt relieved,” his statement continued. “I thanked God and went to my appointment. I never stopped the car to see if she was OK.”
Of returning to Greenport and facing likely arrest, Mr. Gomez Jolon said “I had to go home and I knew I was going to get stopped. I know what I did.”