Not-guilty plea in fatal Hauppauge crash
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A Nesconset man pleaded not guilty Thursday to an indictment charging him with hitting a pedestrian walking on Route 347 in Hauppauge and leaving him dead in the road.
Craig Williams, 38, remained free on $25,000 bail. He declined to comment on the charges or the Sept. 29 crash that killed Thomas Wik Jr., 23, of Nesconset.
After the arraignment before Suffolk County Court Judge Stephen Braslow on a charge of leaving the scene of a fatal accident, Wik's mother, Joanne Wik, said she was upset that police didn't give Williams a breath test or take a blood sample to see whether he was intoxicated or impaired by drugs.
"It pays to know somebody," said Thomas Wik Sr., noting that Williams' father is an investigator in the Suffolk district attorney's office.
Because of that relationship, the court appointed attorney Stephen Scaring of Garden City as special prosecutor in the case.
Williams' attorney, Tad Scharfenberg of Bohemia, denied there was any favoritism involved and said there was no legal basis for the police to check his client for intoxication. Williams called police about 45 minutes after the 4:45 a.m. accident to report it. If the officers who met and arrested him soon afterward saw any sign of intoxication, they would have asked for a blood sample, Scharfenberg said.
"This case is just a horrible tragedy," he said. "There is no alcohol or drugs in this case."
The case is one of several that spurred Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota to urge the State Legislature to increase the penalties for leaving the scene of an accident. The State Senate passed such a bill this week and it is now pending in the Assembly.
Scharfenberg said the law permits a motorist to leave a scene under certain circumstances as long as he or she reports the crash promptly.
Although Braslow allowed Williams to remain free, he did revoke his driver's license. Scharfenberg argued that he needed the license to work.
"He's going to have to tighten his belt," Braslow replied. "For his own protection, and the protection of the public, I'm revoking his privilege to drive."