LI Mom: Arrests Of Accused Hit-And-Run Drivers 'Won't Bring Son Back'
LI Mom: Arrests Of Accused Hit-And-Run Drivers 'Won't Bring Son Back'

LI Mom: Arrests Of Accused Hit-And-Run Drivers 'Won't Bring Son Back'

FARMINGVILLE, NY— Twenty-five-year-old Nicholas Puzio was crossing Medford Avenue one winter morning last year, when Suffolk police say he was fatally struck by two vehicles — one right after another, and the drivers bolted without stopping to help him.

Puzio died a short time later at Long Island Community Hospital in East Patchogue, after his mother, Theresa, says his body was too broken for him to have been saved.

Police say they apprehended the first driver a short time later, but it was not until two weeks ago that they arrested the second driver, Jesus Matute, 73, of Patchogue, who was driving a 2005 Nissan SUV.

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The arrest was made following a year-long investigation by Major Case Squad detectives, police said.

While the second arrest has brought some relief to Puzio’s family because they have been “living a nightmare for a year,” said Theresa, whose family did not attend the recent arraignment.

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The arrest isn’t enough.

“I have basically come to the realization that no matter what happens to these drivers, it won’t bring my son back,” she said.

It’s taken a lot of time for her to comprehend what transpired.

“I’ve been reading and talking to other parents of children and I’m not in the headspace where I can give any of my energy to either of these drivers,” she said.

Puzio of Farmingville was crossing Medford Avenue at Oak Street at around 4 a.m. when he was struck by a southbound white sedan traveling on Medford Avenue, and around one minute later, he was struck a second time by a gray Nissan Armada, police said.

The same day as the crash, Elian Jurado-Zavala, 19, of Bay Shore was identified as the first driver that struck Puzio and was charged with leaving the scene of an accident with a fatality.

His attorney, Robert Macedonio of Central Islip, said he and his client are “still in discussions on resolving this matter.”

Jurado-Zavala, who has pleaded not guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, is due back in court on April 12.

Matute also pleaded not guilty to the same charge and was released on his own recognizance pending his next court date on April 16, according to online court records.

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Patch has reached out to Matute’s attorney, Brian John Griffin of Garden City, for comment.

Puzio hopes that a bill named in her son ‘s honor will one day become law.

Sen. Dean Murray says he has sought to force action on “Nick’s Law” and it could come to a vote before a senate committee within the next few weeks.

“If you’re in an accident and somebody gets hurt, you don’t leave the scene,” he said. “You stay, you try to help. Period.”

What the law will do is if someone does leave, and it does result in a fatality, it allows the district attorney’s prosecutors to increase the charges and go after the drivers harder, Murray says.

“Hopefully, people will think about this and say, ‘Hey, I better stop,'” he said.

Theresa says she is happy that the two alleged hit-and-run drivers will be held accountable, but it is still hard to live without her son.

Still, she says the laws in New York have to change so that people are held accountable longer and pay “the ultimate price for their poor judgment.”

“I don’t know what the outcome would have been if they would have stopped,” she said. “If the first driver would have stopped, maybe the second driver wouldn’t have hit him.”

Puzio left behind a father, and two siblings who are also grappling with their grief since his death.

“We just try to focus on Nick’s life because we don’t want to keep focusing on his end,” Theresa said. “He was much more than that.”

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