Hit-and-run driver pleads not guilty in Cheektowaga Town Court

Accident investigators inventory the scene where a bicyclist was struck on Shanley Street during the early morning hours of August 11, 2017. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)
Accident investigators inventory the scene where a bicyclist was struck on Shanley Street during the early morning hours of August 11, 2017. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. – A bicyclist was struck and severely hurt by a hit-and-run driver on Shanley Street just after midnight Friday.

The vehicle that struck a bicyclist on Shanley Street was found at the dead-end of Shanley Street near the home of the driver. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)
The vehicle that struck a bicyclist on Shanley Street was found at the dead-end of Shanley Street near the home of the driver. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)

An eyewitness who didn’t want to be identified tells Cheektowaga Chronicle that the driver turned the corner off Richard Drive onto Shanley Street doing about 30 mph and hit the bicyclist.

Cheektowaga Police identify the victim as Damian Garra, 18, of Cheektowaga. 

“He clearly hit something or someone.  He knew what he did, and then he sped up after it happened and continued on home,” the eyewitness said.

Police officers located the vehicle near the home of the driver at the dead-end of Shanley Street.  The driver, Paul Hintermeier, 36, was taken into custody and was initially cooperating with police according to a law enforcement source.

(From L to R) Prosecutor Christopher Gresham, Paul Hintermeier, and Defense Attorney Jeffery Krajewski appear before Justice Dennis Gorski on August 11, 2017. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)
(From L to R) Prosecutor Christopher Gresham, Paul Hintermeier, and Defense Attorney Jeffery Krajewski appear before Justice Dennis Gorski on August 11, 2017. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)

He was charged with DWI, Open Container of Alcohol in a Motor Vehicle, Refusal of a Breath Test, Vehicular Assault, Leaving the Scene of an Injury Accident, Aggravated Unlicensed Operation, Driving at an Unsafe Speed, Failure to Stop at a Stop Sign, and Failure to Keep Right. Additional charges are pending.

Mr. Hintermeier was arraigned before Justice Dennis Gorski Friday morning. Public defender Jeffery Krajewski entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf.

Erie County Assistant District Attorney Christopher Gresham asked the judge to increase an initial bail amount of $10,000. 

“I would ask the court to consider $100,000 cash or bond.  This defendant is accused of leaving the scene of a serious injury accident which in and of itself points to him being a flight risk.  He has prior aggravated unlicensed operation arrests in his history which is suggestive of his willful [disobedience] of mandates of the court and other authorities of the state,” said Mr. Gresham.

Judge Gorski remained the Mr. Hintermeier to jail and ordered him to pay $100,000 cash bail or $250,000 bond to be released.

Accident investigators work during the overnight hours on Shanley Street to recreate the crash scene after a bicyclist was struck just after midnight on August 11, 2017. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)
Accident investigators work during the overnight hours on Shanley Street to recreate the crash scene after a bicyclist was struck just after midnight on August 11, 2017. (Jim Herr/Cheektowaga Chronicle)

The victim, Mr. Garra, was first transported to Sisters of Charity Hospital, St. Joseph Campus to be stabilized before he was transferred to Erie County Medical Center. He is listed in critical condition.

The Cheektowaga Police Department’s Accident Investigation Unit is investigating the crash. If anyone witnessed the crash, they are being asked to call investigators at 686-3580.

The defendant returns to Cheektowaga Town Court on August 16th.