Man gets 5 years in fatal hit-and-run

Roslindale resident pleads guilty in 2010 death of Northeastern graduate

In court yesterday, Colin Ratiu acknowledged his role in the November 2010 hit-and-run death of Andrew Prior, but never apologized to Prior’s family.

In the three months after he struck and killed a Northeastern University graduate last year, Colin Ratiu got married, went on a honeymoon, and acted as though nothing was wrong, while the victim’s family spiraled into grief, a prosecutor said in Suffolk Superior Court yesterday.

Ratiu came face to face with the grieving family in court and acknowledged his role in the hit-and-run on Nov. 14, 2010, that killed 23-year-old Andrew Prior.

Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff
David Prior hugged sons Mark (left) and John after the guilty plea.

But he never apologized.


Judge Carol Ball sentenced Ratiu, 24, to five years in the House of Correction at South Bay for motor vehicular homicide while operating under the influence of alcohol and leaving the scene of an accident causing death. His license will be revoked for 15 years.

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As he was led away in handcuffs, Ratiu waved to his family, as his weeping mother wiped her tears.

In an impact statement, David Prior, choking back tears, recalled the spirit of his son, who had volunteered to care for terminally ill patients when he was a teenager, reading to them and comforting them.

“He went on to become a wonderful student,’’ the elder Prior said. “That’s who was taken from us by a coward who drove away and for three months hid.’’

The father had strong words for Ratiu and his relatives, whom Prior accused of putting his family through hell by allowing Ratiu to roam free and not turning him in.


No matter his sentence, Ratiu’s family will still be able to see him, David Prior told the judge. “They will get a letter from him. We will never hear from our Andy again. Never.’’

Ratiu’s family left court without speaking to reporters.

On Nov. 14, 2010, Ratiu, of Roslindale, who had been drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana, left a Kings of Leon concert at TD Garden in his mother’s Hyundai Santa Fe sport utility vehicle, prosecutors said.

At Tremont and Terrace Street, Ratiu struck Andrew Prior, who was driving a motorized scooter, and sped away, said David Bradley, assistant Suffolk district attorney.

Ratiu, who prosecutors said was drinking alcohol before the concert and downed two nip bottles of bourbon during it, was driving 47 miles per hour in a 35-mile-per-hour zone when he hit Prior.


The impact threw the scooter 150 feet, leaving it crumpled. Prior, of Syracuse, N.Y., was pronounced dead at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

Homicide detectives began investigating immediately, and witnesses told police that a sliver or gray Hyundai SUV sped away from the scene.

In February, 89 days after the accident, an anonymous tip led police to Ratiu. Law enforcement authorities using a search warrant recovered a text message from Ratiu’s phone in which he acknowledged crashing his mother’s SUV.

He had told his family that the vehicle was damaged when he swerved to avoid a skunk and ending up hitting something.

Police found the vehicle parked at his mother’s house with major damage to the body and windshield. Both airbags had been deployed, and pieces of Prior’s scooter were wedged into the front end, Bradley said.

One witness told investigators that he spoke with Ratiu shortly before the 11:30 p.m. collision and “could tell by the sound of his voice that he was intoxicated,’’ Bradley said.

After he was arrested, Ratiu told investigators he was “blackout drunk’’ at the time of the crash and could not believe the valet at the concert gave him his keys to drive, prosecutors said.

Bradley asked the judge to sentence Ratiu to the maximum six to eight years because of his “egregious actions’’ after the fatality.

“He got married, he went on his honeymoon, and he continued to celebrate his life, all the while the Prior family was grieving,’’ Bradley said.

But Neni Odiaga, the lawyer representing Ratiu, said he has cooperated with authorities and was “doing everything right.’’

“He has acknowledged his guilt and is pleading guilty,’’ she said, urging a lighter sentence.

Ratiu - dressed in a corduroy jacket, jeans, and white shirt - showed little emotion as the prosecutor recounted the details of the hit-and-run and as the victim’s parents, two brothers, and other family members sobbed.

After Ratiu was handcuffed, his mother handed his black winter coat to Odiaga.

Meghan Irons can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @MeghanIrons.