District Attorney William J. Fitzpatrick announced Thursday that the investigation into the accident that occurred on February 20, 2019 on Interstate Highway 690 in the City of Syracuse, involving the death of Jorge Jimenez is officially closed. The Syracuse Police Department has completed its accident reconstruction report regarding the accident and submitted it to the District Attorney’s Office for review on March 5, 2019.
The report revealed the following facts:
1. On Wednesday February 20, 2019 at approximately 11:20 PM Alberto Brinones was operating his 2011 black Dodge Charger in an easterly direction on Route 690 in the City of Syracuse.
2. Also present in the Dodge were passengers Osvaldo Rivera-Olivo in the front passenger seat, Jorge Jimenez in the rear seat behind the front passenger and Mayra Quinones in the rear seat behind the driver. The four friends were heading towards the Thruway with the eventual destination intended to be the Turning Stone Casino.
3. While traveling in the far right lane, Brinones indicated, through an interpreter, that he was traveling east at approximately 40-45mph when he hit a patch of ice and spun out of control, his car hitting the left guardrail and coming to rest in a manner perpendicular to oncoming traffic. The vehicle was primarily in the center lane and partially in the left lane.
4. The Dodge sustained severe front end damage causing the front lights to be detached and to no longer function.
5. All four passengers exited the vehicle yet only Ms. Quinones managed to get to safety behind the guardrail and protected from oncoming traffic.
6. At 11:20:47 PM the 911 Center received the first call regarding the crash. The caller reported that although he did not witness the original accident, he was reporting a dangerous situation of a vehicle that was “hard to see” resting in the middle of the roadway on 690. He also reported another vehicle narrowly avoiding a collision by swerving around the disabled vehicle.
7. Nearly 2 minutes later at 11:22:30 PM a second call was received at the 911 Center by another caller. She reported that she had been driving eastbound on 690 when “like a deer jumping in front” of her she observed a black car with no lights on in the middle of the road. She also observed two people in dark clothing standing next to the front driver’s door of the disabled vehicle. She swerved to the right at the last second narrowly avoiding the car. She also observed a vehicle traveling in the center lane behind her about “seven” car lengths back and was able to see that car swerve left which was followed by a bang. It was determined that that vehicle was operated by Mr. Boeheim.
8. Mr. Boeheim was interviewed and provided a statement indicating that after dinner at Joey’s Restaurant he dropped family friends off at the Aloft hotel and then proceeded home by way of 690 east. He stated that “As I passed Midler Ave….before Thompson Road….(and) crested the hill…traveling down the center lane I observed a vehicle sitting sideways in the middle lane….I could see the vehicle and there was no lights…..I reacted and moved to the far left lane by the guardrail. I know I would not be able to stop in time and made an effort to get as close to the guardrail to avoid striking the vehicle. As I get to the front of the vehicle, I observed what I believe is a person along the guardrail; there might have been more than one person. Then a split second later I hear a loud bang and I start coming to a stop…”
9. Mr. Boeheim called 911 at 11:22:40 PM to report the accident. He saw that the person he struck was being attended to and that there was a dangerous situation still in effect so he activated the light on his cell phone to warn oncoming drivers. This was the 3rd 911 call regarding the crash. Jorge Jimenez was later pronounced at University Hospital. Mr. Rivera-Olivo received a non-life threatening injury. Mayra Quinones made the 4th 911 call at 11:23:13 PM and emotionally reported that cars were sliding and one of them hit her friend.
10. The speed limit in the area of the crash is 55 mph, later accelerating to 65 as 690 meets Route 481. There are no road lights in the area of the crash, there was no moonlight, and no ambient lighting from nearby businesses. There were sporadic icy patches towards the far right lane, and the accident reconstructionist had no problems with traction as he walked the scene. There were no other accidents reported that evening in the immediate area.
11. The vehicle driven by Mr. Boeheim was examined and determined to be a 2018 GMC Acadia Suburban in good working order and having four wheel drive. It sustained damage to its front end from the collision with Mr. Jimenez and also had front bumper damage from striking the guardrail. All tires had proper tread and pressure. The headlights and side lights were all in proper working condition. Examination of the Event Data Recorder, otherwise known as the “black box”, revealed that the Boeheim vehicle was traveling at approximately 66mph at five seconds before the impact and at approximately 54 mph at the time of impact. There was evidence of braking before, during and after the accident.
12. The vehicle driven by Mr. Brinones was a 2011 Dodge Charger black in color. The vehicle would not have passed New York State inspection for several reasons that may be germane to the original accident. Two of Mr. Brinones’ tires (right front and right rear) had inadequate tread and the remaining two tires would have barely passed inspection. In addition, the driver and passenger rear marker lights, which are mounted by the lower bumper region and are designed to give side illumination, were found to be inoperable. Finally all four of the vehicle’s windows had 4% light transmittance as opposed to a passing rate of 70% making the vehicle even more difficult to be observed by oncoming traffic. All of the vehicles doors were able to be opened and closed to allow exit by the occupants. It is unknown at this time why, having already nearly been struck, Mr. Brinones, Mr. Rivera-Olivo and Mr. Jimenez were delayed in moving to safety.
13. The apparent contributing factor for Mr. Brinones crashing his vehicle into the guardrail was the loss of traction on the unsafe tires. As previously stated, there were no reports of previous accidents in the area, nor were there recorded reports of hazardous conditions. The event data recorder of Mr. Brinones’ vehicle indicates that he was traveling at 67mph five seconds before he lost control of his vehicle and struck the guardrail.
14. The accident reconstruction report concluded that speed was not a contributing factor in Mr. Boeheim striking Mr. Jimenez. There is zero evidence that drugs or alcohol played a role in either accident.
The final conclusion from the report states:
“Based on the totality of the circumstances surrounding this collision investigation, Boeheim’s operation of his motor vehicle was not reckless, unreasonable or with gross negligence, and no crimes were committed.”
It continues, with regard to the collision involving Mr. Jimenez:
“The apparent contributing factors relating to this collision (are) Boeheim’s limited/obstructed view, and Boeheim’s reaction to an uninvolved vehicle that being the crashed, unlit Dodge Charger that obstructed two lanes of the highway within a poor/reduced visual environment. A secondary contributing factor is pedestrian error/confusion as the pedestrians remained on the dark highway dressed in dark clothing for a prolonged period of time after being aware of on-coming vehicles nearly colliding with the Dodge Charger.”
District Attorney Fitzpatrick said:
“After a careful review of the facts and circumstances of this case, including the thorough and meticulous accident reconstruction performed by experienced members of the Syracuse Police Department’s Traffic Division, I concur with their findings that this was a tragic accident. No charges will be filed against anyone involved. While I recognize that, technically, charges of speeding could be filed against both Mr. Boeheim and Mr. Brinones, in light of the accident reconstruction report, I am exercising my discretion in declining to charge either party. Members of my office and the Police Officers who performed the accident reconstruction and prepared the report have met with the Jimenez family, answered all their questions and have been completely transparent with them. My office will share all reports and findings with the Jimenez family, and I echo Chief Buckner’s sentiments that this was a tragic loss of life. My condolences are extended to this family for the loss of their companion, father and friend.”