Acting DA Singas continues call for stronger penalties against drivers who flee crashes after killing or injuring othersMINEOLA, N.Y. – Acting Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas and the New York State Police announced the arrest today of a man indicted for a 2014 crash on the Southern State Parkway in which he’s charged with driving while intoxicated and impaired, crashing and killing a 59-year-old Hempstead man, leaving the scene, and then burning the car to destroy evidence. Acting DA Singas also repeated her call for stricter penalties against drivers who flee crash scenes after killing or injuring others.
“This defendant is charged with killing an innocent man by driving recklessly and while intoxicated,” Acting DA Singas said outside court after Grant’s arraignment. “He left Mr. Richardson to die while he tried to protect himself by fleeing the scene and burning the car. I am so grateful to the New York State Police and the members of my office who worked in partnership to bring about this indictment in spite of the defendant’s efforts to thwart the investigation and destroy physical evidence.”
Acting DA Singas has been advocating with Suffolk County DA Thomas Spota for state lawmakers to strengthen the State’s hit-and-run statute in order to elevate the crime of leaving the scene of a crash by one level. The E felony for causing serious injury would become a D felony, and the D felony for causing death would become a C felony, for a maximum sentence of five to 15 years in prison, matching the maximum penalty for manslaughter. State lawmakers passed very limited hit-and-run legislation earlier this year, but with provisions so restrictive that it would only apply in very rare cases. Acting DA Singas, the DA’s Association of the State of New York and traffic safety advocates are seeking an amendment to the legislation to close the loopholes. The amendment is supported by the bill’s sponsors.
“Long Island has seen too many cases of drivers fleeing deadly crashes this summer,” Acting DA Singas said. “This case provides yet another example of why our hit-and-run laws need to be strengthened. We will never know if this defendant’s BAC would have resulted in higher charges because he fled. There is something obviously wrong with laws that make it a higher level crime to burn a car than to kill someone with a car and then run.”
New York State Police Troop L Commander Major Joseph Tripodo said, "I commend the hard work and determination of the investigators from Troop L and the Nassau County District Attorney's Office. The individual charged today showed little regard for the life of Sherman Richardson, and our investigators were persistent in their pursuit of the driver who caused his death."
Madi Grant, 34, of Oyster Bay, was arrested by State Police yesterday and arraigned today on the following grand jury charges:
• Manslaughter in the second degree (a C felony)• Vehicular Manslaughter in the second degree (a D felony)• Assault in the second degree (a D violent felony)• Leaving the scene of an incident without reporting (a D felony)• Driving while in an intoxicated condition (an unclassified misdemeanor)• Driving while ability impaired by the combined influence of alcohol and drugs (an unclassified misdemeanor)• Reckless driving (an unclassified misdemeanor)• Aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle (an unclassified misdemeanor)• Unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle (a traffic infraction)• Reckless Endangerment in the second degree (an A misdemeanor)• Arson in the third degree (a C felony)• Conspiracy in the fourth degree (an E felony)• Tampering with physical evidence (an E felony)
Acting Supreme Court Justice David Sullivan set bail at $1,000,000 bond or $500,000 cash. Grant faces a maximum of five 15 years in prison if convicted and is due back in court on September 25.
Acting DA Singas and State Police said that according to witnesses, on Dec. 5, 2014, then-33-year-old Madi Grant drank alcohol and smoked marijuana over the course of a night out and spent several hours in a strip club in Queens. At approximately 4 a.m., Grant left the club and drove a borrowed rental car eastbound on the Southern State Parkway.
At approximately 6:30 a.m., Grant was allegedly driving the rented Chevrolet Captiva approximately a half-mile before the Route 110 exit when he accelerated the car across all three lanes of traffic from the left to the right lanes and slammed into the rear of the car driven by 59-year-old ironworker Sherman Richardson of Hempstead, who was on his way to work. The impact caused Richardson's car to veer off of the Parkway, where it slammed into a tree on the side of the road and Richardson was killed immediately.
A Good Samaritan who was traveling eastbound on the Parkway stopped to render aid to Richardson while Grant allegedly accelerated to Exit 32, where he exited. Another Good Samaritan followed Grant, flashing his headlights and honking his horn. As Grant fled the scene, he sped through several red lights and stop signs, reaching speeds estimated to be 70 mph in a residential neighborhood, while making a series of rapid turns through the side streets of Amityville. The Good Samaritan in pursuit soon lost Grant, but notified 911 with a description of the defendant’s car and returned to the scene of the crash.
Later that day, Grant allegedly conspired with at least one other person to light the Captiva on fire in an apparent effort to destroy evidence of the crash and his involvement. The car was found near the location of the chase on a residential street, engulfed in flames that were accelerated by gasoline, at approximately 3:30 p.m. soon after school had let out for the day.
The joint investigation by the New York State Police and the District Attorney’s Office is ongoing.
Assistant District Attorneys Stefanie Palma and Christopher Casa of Acting DA Singas’ Vehicular Crimes Bureau is prosecuting the case. Grant was represented at arraignment by Christopher Devane, Esq.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.