Accident reconstruction of fatal Darien hit-and-run builds tension during Serrano trial
Defense counsel called its first witness, Sgt. Jason Saile from the Genesee County Sheriff's Office, to testify about the motor-vehicle accident reconstruction that he conducted Aug. 11 after a hit-and-run accident in Darien that killed 18-year-old Connor Lynskey.
Saile said his assignment was to document the evidence found at the accident scene on Sumner Road and draw conclusions about the vehicle-pedestrian collision based on his certification in accident reconstruction.
In Saile’s accident reconstruction report, he noted that the only environmental factor that may have influenced alleged drunk driver Jennifer Serrano was decreased visibility due to the darkness of the unlit road. Otherwise, Sumner Road was clear, dry and its pavement relatively even.
When defense attorney Frank LoTempio asked whether intoxication played a role in the accident, Saile responded with, “Absolutely.” The sargeant maintains that alcohol consumption around the time of the Jason Aldean concert at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center affected the perception of both pedestrian Lynskey and driver Serrano as they departed the performance.
Saile also attested to the fact that the crash data reporter in Serrano’s Jeep did not detect any signs of heavy braking, swerving or a change in velocity as she traveled along Sumner Road. Her vehicle, according to Saile, never slowed down or maneuvered at any point before or during the impact with Lynskey.
Earlier testimony from Nathan Balduf, deputy and motor-vehicle inspector with the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, offered that there were no vehicle mechanical failures in relation to the accident. Saile testified that no skid marks from Serrano’s vehicle were observed on the pavement or gravel shoulder.
Lynskey’s behavior on the night of his death was brought into question before jurors. LoTempio alleged that Lynskey was in violation of NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law 1156b, which states pedestrians must walk against the direction of traffic where sidewalks are not provided. The landing spot of Lynskey’s body indicated he may have walked or jogged in the same direction as Serrano’s Jeep.
A diagram of the accident scene on Sumner Road was also produced by Saile during his investigation. Although Saile reported an 87-foot debris field along both the road and the shoulder, the sergeant said it was difficult to determine the exact location of impact due to the unknown velocities of both Lynskey and Serrano.
Saile also testified he is uncertain of his initial finding that the collision occurred on the pavement rather than on the shoulder. This discrepancy evoked emotion in Frank LoTempio, who remarked in his opening statement that Lynskey may have been hit because he was intoxicated and tripped on the pavement in front of Serrano’s vehicle.
Tensions peaked when District Attorney Lawrence Friedman objected to questioning about a footprint found in the gravel and the possibility of Lynskey falling. Friedman argued LoTempio did not establish evidence or expertise for Saile to testify that Lynskey tripped.
LoTempio insisted the sergeant could speak to the evidence he used when preparing his motor-vehicle accident reconstruction. The attorneys grew so animated that Judge Charles Zambito excused the jury for a 10-minute adjournment and called a bench conference.
Serrano is charged with vehicular manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident without reporting it, driving while intoxicated and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. Jurors will attempt to reconstruct the accident scene for themselves as the trial continues at 9 a.m. tomorrow in Genesee County Court.