Southampton Town Police have arrested a Calverton woman and accused her of striking a man with her car in the early morning hours on Sunday and leaving the scene without reporting the incident, police said.
The victim, Aaron Hartmann, 23, of Riverhead, was walking home from a friend’s party in Flanders at 12:51 a.m. on Sunday, when he was struck by a 2000 Chevy Impala being driven by Jacqueline Celentano, 21, of Calverton, on County Road 105, according to police. Ms. Celentano then fled the scene.
Mr. Hartmann was found a short time later lying in the southbound lane of the road, near the Flanders bridge. He was transported via Flanders Volunteer Ambulance to Peconic Bay Medical Center, and was subsequently transferred to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment of serious injuries, including brain swelling and a severely broken leg.
Ms. Celentano was arrested by Southampton Town Police after police received a crime stopper tip about the color of the car, according to Detective Sergeant Lisa Costa. From there, detectives did a block by block search of the surrounding area until they found a red car matching the description with front end damage parked outside a residence off of Flanders Road in Riverside. The damaged portion of the car also tested positive for blood and clothing fibers, she said.
Ms. Celentano was arrested and taken to police headquarters for processing where she was charged with a felony count of leaving the scene of an accident with physical injury.
According to Mr. Hartmann’s uncle, Bobby Hartmann, his nephew has undergone several surgeries already, and is scheduled for another on Thursday. As of Tuesday evening, Mr. Hartmann said his nephew was stable and doing much better—although he was still on a ventilator to help him breathe and he is being heavily sedated, the swelling in his brain has subsided.
Mr. Hartmann also said that at this point, doctors believe they can save his leg—amputation had been a possibility because of the severity of the breaks—with more surgery and extensive rehabilitation.
As a result of the accident, Mr. Hartmann also suffered multiple facial fractures and abrasions on his entire body. He will need extensive rehab when he is released from the hospital.
“He is going to rebound from this,” Mr. Hartmann said of his nephew. “I can feel it.”
With his nephew slowly starting to recover from his injuries, the family is now questioning exactly what happened that night, and the response from Southampton Town Police.
According to Mr. Hartmann, after his nephew was transported to Peconic Bay Medical Center, police never contacted the family. His family did not learn about the accident until several hours after he was found, at approximately 9 a.m., when the hospital called the house.
Mr. Hartmann also said he wants to know why the scene of the accident was not treated like a crime scene, and evidence was not collected. He added that it was a full 30 hours before the family was contacted by Southampton Town detectives, and only after a social media campaign started asking questions.
Since detectives took over the case, Mr. Hartmann said they have done a fantastic job with the investigation, and that the town has top-notch detectives. But he wants to know why it took so long for a response.
“Somebody dropped the ball between the police on the scene and a decision being made for detectives to take over,” Mr. Hartmann said. “They have done a superb job since then—but why the lapse?”
According to Det. Costa, when Town Police first arrived on the scene, they were informed that Mr. Hartmann had fallen off of the curb and his injuries did not appear as severe as they turned out to be. She said as soon as detectives were made aware of the severity of the injuries, and the possible hit and run, detectives immediately took over and began working the case.
“As soon as detectives were apprised of the incident we actively worked the investigation 24 -7,” she said.
For now, Mr. Hartmann plans to focus on his nephew, and asks that people pray for his recovery. He said his nephew, who is expecting his first child next month, lives in Riverhead with his mother, and has three brothers and a sister.
Southampton Town Police are investigating the incident and ask anyone with information on the hit-and-run to call detectives at 702-2230.