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Cellphone contact list helps police identify pedestrian killed in crash

The Deer Park Fire Department and Suffolk County

The Deer Park Fire Department and Suffolk County police on the scene where a pedestrian was fatally struck at Bay Shore Road and Washington Avenue in Deer Park at 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 5. Credit: Paul Mazza

Days had gone by, and the name of the pedestrian fatally struck Jan. 5 by a 19-year-old driver in Deer Park still eluded police detectives, according to the Suffolk County Police Department.

No ID on the pedestrian. No fingerprints in police records. No luck in any missing-person report.

Then, a break — the pedestrian’s cellphone, which he was apparently carrying when the driver, operating a Nissan Sentra headed west on Bay Shore Road, struck him near the intersection with Washington Avenue.

"We went through the contacts in his cellphone which led us to [a] landlord that gave detectives contact information for the victim’s brother-in-law," the department’s press office wrote in an email this week about the investigation, which also included canvassing the area to see whether people in the neighborhood were familiar with the man.

The pedestrian was then identified as Juan Yat Simar, 51, of Scott Avenue. The crash was at 9:30 p.m.; he died the next day at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip from his critical injuries.

His family couldn’t be reached for comment, nor could the driver, who lives in West Islip.

The speed limit on the road is 40 mph, according to the press office, which did not say how fast the driver was traveling at the time of the crash but discounted excess speed as a factor.

No summonses were issued, the office said.

"The pedestrian crossed the road in dark clothing and in dark lighting conditions," the police email said, saying the collision was 20 feet west of the corner.

Asked for further details — such as the color of the pedestrian’s clothing, the basis for the conclusions about the crash and where in the roadway the crash occurred — the press office directed a reporter to file a formal open records request, which can take weeks or longer.

Thirty-one pedestrians were killed in automobile crashes in Suffolk County in 2019, the most recent year for which a complete tally is available, according to the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research at the University at Albany. The tally is 29 in Nassau, the institute's statistics show.

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