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Records: Driver who fled fatal crash in Coram said he panicked

Westhampton Beach man was arraigned Monday on a charge of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death after crash that killed a passenger, court records show.

Police at the crash scene at Middle Country

Police at the crash scene at Middle Country Road and Homestead Drive in Coram on Sunday morning. Photo Credit: James Carbone

A Westhampton Beach man told police he panicked and ran after the SUV he was driving crashed into a pole in Coram, killing one passenger and injuring another, according a criminal complaint. 

Cruz Emelio Tum-Tipaz, 25, of Potunk Lane, was arraigned Monday on a charge of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death and held on a bail of $200,000 bond or $100,000 cash, according to online court records.

Suffolk police said Tum-Tipaz was behind the wheel of a 2005 Nissan Murano about 4 a.m. Sunday and heading east on Middle Country Road when the SUV crashed into a metal pole near Homestead Drive. Juan Morales Cuterez, 28, of Westhampton, a passenger in the Nissan, was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. Another passenger, Eledao Bolaj-Garcia, 53, of Westhampton, was taken to Stony Brook University Medical Center for treatment of serious but not life-threatening injuries.

Tum-Tipaz ran north through a parking lot after the crash, police said.

He was represented by the Legal Aid Society of Suffolk County, which did not immediately return a call Monday night. 

Suffolk County major case detectives are investigating the crash. Anyone with information was asked to call the Major Case Unit at 631-852-6555 or Crime Stoppers at 800-220-8477.

With Chau Lam and Ellen Yan

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