In October 2011, Peter Rodriguez drove his car the wrong way on a Long Island Expressway service road before crashing into a livery cab at 58th Road and killing George Gibbons, owner of the Maspeth bar The Gibbons’ Home.
Rodriguez, too, managed to flee the scene on foot and play fugitive for nearly a month, only later pleading guilty to felony negligent homicide, carrying a sentence of three-and-a-half to seven years in jail.
Although prosecutors pushed for a 15 year to life sentence in the Rodriguez case, they couldn't push for stricter charges – such as vehicular manslaughter or vehicular homicide - because they could not prove that he was intoxicated at the time of the accident.
In fact, he would have served even less than the minimum three-and-a-half years if it weren’t for his prior attempted drug trafficking conviction in 2004.
It is unclear whether Rodriguez or Acevedo were drinking at the time of their accidents, since neither were given sobriety tests in the field. In a bizarre twist, under current law an intoxicated hit-and-run suspect is better off running from the scene of a deadly car crash rather than sticking around.
Better to turn yourself in a few days later when you are sober and face the consequences of leaving the scene of an accident, currently a misdemeanor, than get charged with drunk driving.
If Acevedo is in fact the man behind the death of the 21-year-old couple and their prematurely born son, it is possible he was an innocent man and could have even prevented their death by simply staying at the scene and calling for help before it was too late.
However, as soon as he fled the scene, he implicated himself in wrongdoing, and he should face tougher penalties and more time in jail. Two New York City legislators are trying to change the law so that if you leave the scene of a fatal accident, you can be charged with a felony.
Hopefully the state has all the evidence it now needs that it should pass this law.