BOSTON (CBS) – A man was caught on another driver’s dashboard camera hitting and killing an 80-year-old man in Allston before leaving the scene, prosecutors say.
Twenty-three-year-old Phocian Fitts was arrested on Wednesday after police say he hit and killed an 80-year-old man on Commonwealth Ave. around 1 p.m. Though Fitts did not stop after the crash, his damaged Jeep Cherokee was found about a mile away with a cracked windshield and front-end damage.
“The dash cam footage depicts the Jeep accelerating at a high rate of speed with no cars in front of it or next to it,” said prosecutors.
The victim’s identification has not been officially released, but family members tell WBZ-TV it was 80-year-old Ted Schwalb, who was a “compassionate bon vivant” who lived life on his own terms until Wednesday when he was struck and killed by an alleged hit and run driver as he walked in a crosswalk on Commonwealth Avenue in Allston.
Schwalb was a retired art teacher from Stoneham High School. He taught at the school for more than three decades until his retirement in 2000. “He taught hundreds of students and inspired many of them to be better people and artists,” Principal Donna Cargill said.
Alexander Star, Schwalb’s nephew, said, “This is a man who made an art out of his life.”
During his arraignment, Fitts’ defense attorney argued that he is not a flight risk and asked for $2,500 bail. Fitts is on federal probation from a 2014 case where he was convicted of beating a mailman. Prosecutors asked a judge to hold Fitts on $15,000, but bail was set $10,000.
He is currently charged with a misdemeanor but prosecutors hope a grand jury will increase the charges.
Fitts admitted that he was going too fast and honked for the elderly man to get out of the way as he drove through a green light, prosecutors said. The 23-year-old drove to his mother’s house and told her he was “upset” because he hit something.
“He admitted to seeing the pedestrian walking in the crosswalk and honking his horn, but suggested that he couldn’t avoid the pedestrian and when it came down to it, accidents happen,” said prosecutor Emily Hamrock.
Neighbors in the Schwalb’s South End neighborhood say they were stunned to learn the victim in the fatal car crash was their longtime neighbor. “He was quite a character in the neighborhood,” said Jim Linehan.
Schwalb turned 80 just two weeks ago and family members say he defied the aging process. “Even long after he retired he would mention that he had dinner with someone who had been a student of his twenty years ago. He was one of those people who collected people and kept them part of his life,” said Anthony Star, another nephew.