A Ronkonkoma driver surrendered to authorities Thursday and confessed to hitting the man found dead Sunday on a Brentwood roadside, a spokesman for the district attorney's office said.

Craig Brackley Perkins, 53, was driving south on Sagtikos Parkway and merging onto the Long Island Expressway when he heard a "thump" just after 3:30 a.m. Sunday, said Bob Clifford, spokesman for District Attorney Thomas Spota.

Perkins' surrender came on the day Kieran Smith, 21, a Suffolk County Community College student from Kings Park, was buried at Commack Cemetery. A passing motorist had seen Smith's body off Express Drive South off the LIE, just east of the Sagtikos, and called 911 about 7:45 a.m. Sunday, four hours after he was hit, officials said.

Smith's father, Harry, said he got the news about Perkins from a detective as he was heading to the funeral Mass for his son, who was studying to be a physician assistant before trying to "go as far as he could go" to become a doctor.

"It's small consolation that this man has done this now," said Smith, of Kings Park. "It's good for a lot of people that we've got closure. He was a tremendous boy and it's a tremendous loss. I feel terrible because there are two families that are suffering from this incident."

In an arranged surrender, Perkins went to the Third Precinct Thursday, his attorney Edward Yule, of Northport, said. At arraignment, Perkins pleaded not guilty to leaving the scene of an incident without reporting it, a felony. Bail was set at $5,000 cash.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

The complaint against Perkins said he decided not to call police but instead talked about the accident with five people -- his sister, the mother of his children, a brother, an employee and a friend.

"I thought it was possible I hit a person, but dismissed it, because I could not and did not believe I hit a person," the complaint said, in summing up Perkins' statement to authorities.

Yule said Perkins was looking left as he merged left onto the LIE service road when he heard a thump on the front right end. "He didn't see a car, he didn't see anybody," Yule said.

In the morning, he noticed the damage and after hearing news reports about the body found, he called Yule, the attorney said. Yule said he had a trial on Monday, so they contacted Spota's office Tuesday, let them take Perkins' Ford pickup, and then talked to prosecutors and police all day Wednesday.

"He did everything responsibly," Yule said. "He's very concerned about the family of Kieran Smith."

Smith said his son had a flat on his Nissan after dropping off a friend and told his friend he was going for a tow truck. Smith surmises he was walking to the nearby gas station: "He was such a good kid that rather than calling his father and waking him up at 3:30 in the morning. . . . He happened to be a special kid."