A Good Samaritan tow-truck operator chased a hit-and-run driver for nearly 8 miles through the Bronx, desperately weaving in and out of traffic as he tried to catch the suspect, police and witnesses said Tuesday.
The high-speed pursuit - which came after the second hit-and-run accident on Bruckner Blvd. in as many days - finally ended when Peter Dinome was able to cut off the fleeing sedan and hold its driver for cops.
"I tried dragging him out of the car, [and] I took his keys," said Dinome yesterday. "He started crying, breaking down."
"I said, 'Did you realize what you just did?'" Dinome recalled. "'He said, 'I'm sorry, I panicked, I didn't know what to do.'"
The driver, Michael Fennell, was charged with leaving the scene of an accident with an injury, police said.
Lopez-Cruz, 40, was thrown almost a dozen feet before landing on the asphalt, while Fennell's Nissan Maxima never slowed down, police said.
Dinome, 20, followed in his Co-op City Towing and Collision truck, staying close behind the black sedan even as it took the on-ramp onto I-95 North only to exit in the other direction a few moments later.
"At times I was going 120, 130, I was moving," said Dinome, adding that Fennell drove the wrong direction down several one-way streets while trying to lose him.
Dinome, who had a friend call 911 to give police updates on the pursuit, finally caught up with the Maxima at the intersection of Willow Lane and Westchester Ave., just a few blocks from where their chase began.
"I couldn't let someone die right before my eyes and let him get away," said Dinome. "I'm not a hero - I just did a thing that I thought was right."
Lopez-Cruz was listed in serious but stable condition at Jacobi Medical Center and is expected to recover, police said.
Dinome said a traffic camera caught him running a red light, but the cop who arrested Fennell said he would pay for Dinome's ticket. "All the cops were patting me on the back," Dinome said.
A police source applauded Dinome for his help but said witnesses should call cops and not give chase on their own.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Everyday Tow Hero In NY
Kudos to NY tow truck driver Peter Dinome of Co-op City Towing and Collision who chased down and caught a hit-and-run driver in the Bronx on Sept. 1. Here's the story from the New York Daily News:
Florescu for News
Tow-truck driver Peter Dinome chased Michael Fennell for 8 miles after seeing him plow into a pedestrian in the Bronx and take off.
Posted by Cyndi Kight, Associate Editor of Towing & Recovery Footnotes at 10:51 AM