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Rockland County Man Sentenced For DWI Crash That Nearly Killed Victim

Jonathan Elwell, 36
Jonathan Elwell, 36 Photo Credit: Rockland County District Attorney's Office

A Suffern man convicted last year of vehicular assault and DWI after leaving the scene of a crash that left a man seriously injured has been sentenced to five years in prison, according to Rockland County District Attorney Thomas P. Zugibe.

Jonathan Elwell, 36, was found guilty by a jury in September 2017 of felony assault, two counts of felony vehicular assault, and one count of leaving the scene of an accident.

The crash happened when Elwell, who was driving a 2011 Mercedes-Benz westbound on Route 202 in Montebello, collided head-on with the victim’s 2001 Cadillac.

Immediately following the collision, an eyewitness saw Elwell attempting to re-start his vehicle’s engine. When the car would not start, he ran down Route 202 and stumbled into a wooded area, Zugibe said.

Approximately three hours later, Elwell contacted Ramapo Police and told them he was involved in a traffic accident and had blacked out, but remembered the accident, but nothing else except he was alone in the car, the DA's Office said.

Officers located Elwell at the intersection of Route 202 and Bayard Lane, a half-mile from the accident site in an intoxicated state.

More than five hours after the collision, experts put his blood alcohol content at .11 percent, the DA's Office said,

An investigation into the crash revealed that Elwell did not brake or attempt to avoid a collision with the victim’s Cadillac, as the victim attempted unsuccessfully to avoid being struck.

The victim was treated at both Good Samaritan Hospital and Westchester Medical Center, where he underwent multiple surgeries on his left leg, right hip and right foot. The accident left the victim unable to walk without the use of a cane.

"The Rockland County District Attorney's Office has zero tolerance when it comes to individuals getting behind the wheel while their ability to drive is impaired by alcohol or drugs," said Zugibe. "In this case, the defendant has been held accountable for his crimes and faces jail time and additional sanctions as punishment.”

Senior Assistant District Attorney Michael Dugandzic and Assistant District Attorney Marissa Licata prosecuted the case.

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