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

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. 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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