Charges announced for Penfield man arrested in fatal hit-and-run along Empire Blvd. in Webster

Crime

WEBSTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Webster police announced an arrest Tuesday more than three weeks after a hit-and-run left one woman dead and sent three of her family members to the hospital.

Webster Police Chief Joseph Rieger said Maxwell Ward, 27 of Penfield, is charged with:

  • 1 count of criminally negligent homicide
  • 1 count of leaving the scene of a fatal accident
  • 1 count of leaving the scene of a serious personal injury accident
  • 2 counts of leaving the scene of a personal injury accident
  • Moving from lane unsafely 
  • Failure to use due care for a pedestrian
Flowers left on the scene of the crash site that left killed 41-year-old Oksana Zakharchyshyn, and injured her two daughters, 22-year-old Mariana, and 15-year-old Oleysa, as well as Oksana’s 3-year-old grandson Maksym on Saturday, July 20, 2020. (News 8 WROC Photo/ JOSH NAVARRO)

Chief Rieger said Ward was arrested Tuesday morning without incident in Perinton. The chief says Ward was arraigned Tuesday afternoon and is being held on $25,000 cash bail or $100,000 bond. Ward is scheduled to return to Webster Town Court for a preliminary hearing Friday at noon. Officials say there is the possibility of this case being moved to a grand jury.

“This was certainly a tragic event for the family and the community at large,” Chief Rieger said.

Webster Police Chief Joseph Rieger:

According to defense attorney Brian DeCarolis, Ward turned himself in the night of the incident.

“That’s part of what took so much time to get where we are now; reviewing video, looking at evidence, all those things do take time,” Chief Rieger said. “It was an ongoing investigation, and there are facts that have to be looked into before we make an arrest.”

DeCarolis says Ward recognizes the pain he caused for the family of the victim.

“He’s a stand up guy, from the beginning he has been very concerned about the condition of the survivors.” DeCarolis said. “Max and his dad showed up at the Webster Police Department on the night in question. Max did not need outside influence in order to take that measure that night; 27-year-old young man, he’s been a pleasure to deal with, and as I said he understands the tough situation here and recognizes the other side of it and this family that has been irrevocably harmed.”

Defense attorney Brian DeCarolis:

Shortly before 9 p.m. on Saturday July 20, an SUV struck the four people walking alongside Empire Boulevard. Webster police said the driver didn’t stop after crashing into the pedestrians.

According to a criminal complaint, it was broad daylight and the pedestrians were visible from the roadway when the crash occurred.

The complaint also says that Ward’s hands were occupied with a cigar as he was reaching for his cell phone.

When police arrived on scene that Saturday night, 41-year-old Oksana Zakharchyshyn was pronounced dead. Two of Oksana’s daughters, 22-year-old Mariana, and 15-year-old Oleysa, as well as Oksana’s 3-year-old grandson Maksym were all struck and thrown into a ditch on the side of the road. Mariana and Maksym were later released from the hospital.

MORE | Family members on fatal hit-and-run in Webster: ‘Huge part of our lives that’s gone forever’

Family members said the group who was struck in the crash moved to the United States from Ukraine in the beginning of 2020 to join other family members who were building a life in Webster.

“This is especially difficult for them because you know they’re embarking on this new journey in their lives,” said Nataliya Zakharchishin, Oksana’s niece. “Starting the lives here, and now doing it without her is just absolutely heartbreaking.”

Max Ward being escorted from Webster Town Court:

The deceased Oksana was said to be the heart of the family.

“She was just upbeat, and positive, and a great sense of humor,” Zakharchishin said. “It’s just a huge part of our lives that’s gone forever.”

Daniel Safee owns Danwin’s Pharmacy near where the crash happened. He says he’d like to see a safety analysis conducted in the area.

MORE | Witness of fatal Webster hit-and-run: ‘Will be hard to erase that from my memory’

“That intersection between Empire and Gravel, you get tons of complaints about that and nobody seems to know who has the right of way, or what speed you should go, or whether or not you should stop before merging onto Gravel from the opposite direction,” Safee said. “And there’s been so many accidents on this road that it’s really a safety concern, especially for the business owners here that are trying to conduct business we need our customers to be able to get here safely.”

The family has been overwhelmed with community support.

“Very grateful and thankful for you know for everybody’s who been reaching out, all the support on social media it’s really helping us,” said Zakharchishin.

GoFundMe was established to help the family.

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.

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