NJ man who killed 15-year-old says he thought he hit an animal
The 31-year-old man who later admitted to police he was at the wheel in a deadly hit and run that killed a 15-year-old boy had no idea at the time that he had struck a human, according to his defense attorney.
Alexander Politan, of Toms River, is charged with causing a death while driving with a suspended driver’s license and knowingly leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident resulting in death, Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer announced Oct. 8.
Politan's defense attorney, Robert Hynes, said his client "100% would have stopped if he knew he hit a person." He also said to New Jersey 101.5 that Politan thought he had struck a large animal.
The victim in the crash on Friday night, Oct. 4, was Lakewood High School junior Jesus Lopez Grande, who suffered extensive skull fractures, a severed spinal cord and other multiple broken bones, according to the affidavit of probable cause against Politan.
Investigators said parts of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee found by police at the crash scene included pieces from the passenger side view mirror, front grill and part of the quarter panel.
As reported by NJ.com, Hynes said Politan was driving his brother’s vehicle, which he parked at his mother’s home that night, before making a "pre-planned" out-of-state trip to Colorado to visit his brother.
The crash also slightly injured the victim's father, Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, who said he was walking his son home from work that night along Oak Street.
Lopez Rodriguez said he was pushing his son's broken bicycle, held on his right side, when he was knocked to the ground by the Jeep, according to police.
Lopez Rodriguez said he did not realize at first that his son, walking ahead of him, had been hit, too. Police said he tried chasing the vehicle, which he said never stopped, as it made a right turn from Oak Street onto Albert Avenue before it drove off.
On Sunday, Oct. 6, police received an anonymous tip that a vehicle matching the description of the one involved in the deadly crash was parked at a Toms River home on the 1700 block on New Hampshire Avenue.
The Jeep Cherokee, which is registered to William Flood, was found there by police.
Politan called police Sunday evening and admitted he was the driver of the Jeep in the hit and run.
A detention hearing for Politan is slated for Thursday morning at 10:30 a.m. in Superior Court in Toms River.
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