May 03-- value="LU/us.ct.newhvn" idsrc="xmltag.org">NEW HAVEN -- A city man was charged Monday in a March hit-and-run crash that left another city man lying in a value="LU/us.ct.newhvn" idsrc="xmltag.org">New Haven street with injuries authorities say killed him.
Antonio Calderon, 27, is accused of hitting Michael Kucher, 54, early on the morning of March 7 on Grand Avenue then fleeing the scene.
Police tracked down Calderon after a weeks-long hunt for a suspect known to one witness as "Wolverine," spokesman Officer David Hartman said in a press release Tuesday.
Calderon denied he was the driver of the car involved in accident, but Hartman said police have evidence he was behind the wheel.
Police have said Kucher was hit shortly after midnight March 7 as he crossed Grand Avenue from west to east between Poplar and Ferry streets. Witnesses told police a white Honda Accord coupe had crashed into a tree before hitting him.
Kucher was rushed to value="ACORN:0327739380" idsrc="xmltag.org">Yale-New Haven Hospital with head and body trauma and a shattered leg, according to officers at the scene. Kucher died March 16 of complications from his injuries, which Hartman said included blunt impacts to Kucher's head, neck, torso and extremities.
A representative for the Office of the Chief State Medical Examiner confirmed Tuesday those injuries were found to be the cause of Kucher's death. The manner of his death was found to be accidental.
Grand Avenue was shut down for hours the morning of the crash while police investigated. Witnesses said the driver of the value="Tokyo:7267" idsrc="xmltag.org">Honda did not stop and instead fled west on Grand Avenue.
One witness told police he knew the driver of the value="Tokyo:7267" idsrc="xmltag.org">Honda as "Wolverine," a short, stocky man who had "vampire-like fangs."
Investigators pulled surveillance video from three nearby locations that allegedly showed the value="Tokyo:7267" idsrc="xmltag.org">Honda was involved in some kind of street race with two other vehicles. Police also found broken safety glass at the accident scene and said the car had tinted windows and likely had damage to its windshield or passenger side window.
The day after the crash, police were dispatched to a suspicious vehicle complaint at 1523 Chapel St. A property manager there said a car had been "hidden" between a wall and a passenger van.
The car was a white value="Tokyo:7267" idsrc="xmltag.org">Honda with a cracked windshield that was covered up. The manager said he thought it might the car for which police were searching.
Sgt. Rose Dell, a specialist on the Police Department's Crash Investigation Team, looked deeper into the car's history, the release said.
She found the car had been towed to a local tow yard in August 2015 and from there she was able to figure out who owned it then. That owner said he had since sold the car -- along with its misused value="LS/us.tn" idsrc="xmltag.org">Tennessee license plates, according to the release.
After Kucher died, Dell started working with Detective Sgt. David Zannelli from the homicide unit to track down the current owner. They conducted many interviews with help from several Spanish-speaking officers.
Police caught up with Calderon when a Fair Haven patrol officer got a tip that "Wolverine" was in a local bar. Investigators learned his real name and brought him to police headquarters for an interview.
Calderon said he wasn't driving but was in the car the night of the crash.
But Hartman said police have statements from witnesses who say they saw him fleeing from the value="Tokyo:7267" idsrc="xmltag.org">Honda's driver's seat after the crash.
Hartman said Calderon was charged in the crash Monday while in police custody on an unrelated matter.
Calderon, who lives on Alton Street, is charged with felony evading responsibility, second-degree manslaughter, misconduct with a motor vehicle and reckless driving. It was not immediately clear when he will appear in court or whether he has an attorney.
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