WILKES-BARRE – The number of drivers charged with fleeing after being involved in a fatal hit-and-run in Luzerne County jumped dramatically in 2012.
Six people died from injuries inflicted by vehicles that drove away last year, equal to the same number of people killed in hit-and-run crashes from 2005 to 2011 in Luzerne County, according to a review of court records and archives from The Times Leader.
One case in particular has touched the community.
Four days before Christmas, Kevin Miller, 5, of Dallas, was struck and killed by what city police say might a red Pontiac sedan as he crossed West North Street with his father on Dec. 21.
Pictures of the suspected vehicle has been published and broadcasted, and shared multiple times on Facebook. The public has been asked to inform city police at 826-8106 if the car is found.
There are no words, Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis said. The victims are truly innocent victims, especially with Kevin Miller. It was devastating to the entire community. The whole community is mourning with this family.
Why would someone take off? I don't have an explanation, Salavantis said. I would hope that anybody would want to stop and own up to it.
Three drivers have been charged in other cases, while the Miller case and a fatal hit-and-run in Plymouth Township on Aug. 7 remain open.
Fatal hit-and-run crashes in 2012:
• June 15: Corey Ryan, 20, of Wilkes-Barre, was struck by a vehicle allegedly driven by Danielle Castrignano, 20, of Kingston, as he crossed South River Street, Wilkes-Barre, with friends. Ryan died June 29. Castrignano was charged with accidents involving death.
• July 24: Rebecca McCallick, 19, of Mountain Top, died from injuries after being struck by a vehicle that drove away on Hazle Avenue, Wilkes-Barre. Daniel Loughnane, 40, of Hanover Township, was charged with accidents involving death.
• Aug. 7: Richard Stadts, 73, of Plymouth Township, died from injuries when he was struck by a vehicle while riding a bicycle on U.S. Route 11, Plymouth Township. No charges have been filed, although state police at Wyoming say they have a person of interest.
• Sept. 2: Donnie Pizano, 38, and Robin Walsh, 39, both of Plains Township, died from injuries when their motorcycle was struck by another vehicle on state Route 315, Pittston Township. Walter Raven, 60, of Jenkins Township, was charged with accidents involving death.
• Dec. 21: Kevin Smith, 5, of Dallas, died from injuries when he was struck by a vehicle that drove away on West North Street, Wilkes-Barre. No charges have been filed.
Fatal hit-and-run crashes from 2005 to 2011:
• Aug. 19, 2005: David Cardwell, 27, of Dallas, died after being struck by a second vehicle on South Main Street, Wilkes-Barre. The driver of the first vehicle that struck Cardwell was not charged in his death. Police have not located the driver of the second vehicle.
• May 29, 2007: Eric Vannucchi, 19, died when he was struck by a vehicle driven by Sarah Marquis, 31, on U.S. Route 11, Plymouth. Marquis drove away and was found the next day in Ashley. She was sentenced in February 2008 to two to four years in state prison plus five years probation.
• Nov. 2, 2007: Ronald Lloyd George, 63, of Wilkes-Barre Township, died when he was struck by a vehicle as he crossed Wilkes-Barre Township Boulevard near Johnson Street, Wilkes-Barre Township. The driver of the vehicle drove away and has never been charged.
• Aug. 27, 2008: Sharon Shaughnessy, 32, died after she was struck by three vehicles when she crossed Wyoming Avenue, near Pierce Street, Kingston. Kingston police have charged Megan Panowicz, 27, and Linda Giordano, 67, with accidents involving death as they allegedly drove away. Their cases are being challenged in appellate court. The driver of the other vehicle that struck Shaughnessy stopped and was not charged.
• Oct. 20, 2008: Raymond Falcone, 87, died after he was struck by a fleeing vehicle on Laflin Road, Laflin. Austin Knight, 23, of Dallas, was sentenced in December 2009 to one to two years in jail on a charge of accidents involving death.
• June 30, 2011: Aloysius McLaughlin, 63, was killed after he was struck by a fleeing vehicle on Third Avenue, Kingston. Karen McCann, 34, was sentenced in September to three to six years in state prison.