A Staten Island motorist who fled the scene after hitting a mother and two young children, fatally injuring the woman’s 5-year-old son, will serve six months in jail under a plea deal from District Attorney Daniel Donovan.
John Sanjurjo ran over Kyrillos Gendy, his 7-year-old sister Gabriella, and 35-year-old Erieny Thomas at around 8:25 p.m. on August 9, 2013, as they crossed Richmond Road. Kyrillos had “severe internal bleeding and no pulse” when he arrived at Staten Island University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to the Times. Gabriella suffered a broken ankle, and Ms. Thomas “had a gash on her face.”
Mr. [Adam] Gendy [Kyrillos’s cousin] said the family had not yet told Gabriella what had happened. “That’s a conversation we’re trying to figure out,” he said. “The mom is just an emotional wreck right now. She barely speaks.”
Adam Gendy told the Times he last saw Kyrillos an hour before the crash. “He hugged me, gave me a kiss. He’s very innocent, very full of energy, very loving. Loved Marvel superheroes. Could name you all the superheroes.”
Sanjurjo, accompanied by an attorney, waited until the next day to turn himself in to police. “Sanjurjo’s 2013 Mercedes-Benz 350 matched the vehicle description, including dents in the hood from the impact,” the Daily News reported. “The force of the impact sent Kyrillos flying through the air. Bits of scattered food that Kyrillos’ family was carrying were found on the car.”
On the day of Kyrillos’s funeral, Sanjurjo, 33, was arraigned and freed on $35,000 bail. He was charged with one count of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, and two counts of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury. “You got the wrong guy, man,” Sanjurjo told reporters outside the courthouse.
A handful of times in recent memory, New York City district attorneys have brought homicide charges against sober drivers in fatal crashes. But Donovan did not charge Sanjurjo with assault or homicide for injuring Kyrillos’s mom and sister and leaving the boy to die in the street.
New York State law gives drivers an incentive to leave the scene of a serious crash. For one thing, the penalty for hit-and-run is less severe than the penalty for drunk driving. And under current law the decision to issue charges for leaving the scene rests on the ability to divine driver intent, lending credibility to the “I didn’t see him” defense. Cleaning up hit-and-run laws is one of the goals in the de Blasio administration’s Vision Zero plan.
On February 28, Sanjurjo pled guilty to the top leaving the scene charge, a class D felony that carries a maximum penalty of seven years in jail, according to court records and the Staten Island Advance.
Under his top-count plea, Sanjurjo will be sentenced April 11 in state Supreme Court, St. George, to six months in jail and five years’ probation, said a spokesman for District Attorney Daniel Donovan.
Donovan recently negotiated a similar deal — six months in jail and a five-year license suspension — for Brian McGurk, the hit-and-run driver who mortally wounded Clara Almazo in April 2012, after she pushed her 8-year-old grandson out of McGurk’s path.
While explaining that Sanjurjo was “absolutely beside himself and filled with remorse,” attorney Patrick V. Parrotta blamed the victims.
Parrotta said Sanjurjo panicked and left the scene, and had no criminal culpability beyond those actions.
“There was no reckless driving … no traffic infraction, no speeding, no disobeying a red light, stop sign or traffic-control device,” said Parrotta.
He said the impact was at “relatively low speed — possibly 15 mph.”
The victims were crossing in the middle of the street, a good distance from the corner, he said.
Kyrillos’s parents declined comment, the Advance reported.