SALEM – A 25-year-old man involved in a fatal car accident Sunday night lied to police when he told them that he was behind the wheel at the time of the crash, authorities said Monday.
A day after a 42-year-old homeless man was killed when he was struck by a BMW on Bridge Street in Salem, prosecutors accused Francisco Garcia of lying to protect the woman they say was driving, who, authorities say, fled on foot after the accident.
Garcia remained at the scene Sunday, and at around 10:30 p.m told police he never saw the victim before his car struck the man. But when questioned by police, Garcia “could not provide what direction he was coming from, what direction he was facing, nor provide an accurate location to where the strike happened,” police wrote in a report on the crash.
“Garcia was calm and did not appear to be under the influence,” police wrote in a report.
Police found a cellphone near the BMW, and placed it on the trunk. Shortly after Garcia left after speaking with police, it buzzed with a text from Garcia that read “you [expletive deleted] up.”
One witness told police he saw a woman get out of the car on the driver’s side after pulling into a nearby parking lot, according to the report. Another told police that he saw Garcia get out on the passenger’s side, and that someone from inside the car handed him a phone.
A witness described seeing the victim staggering down the sidewalk before the crash, which left him sprawled on the side of the road, police wrote in the report.
At his arraignment Monday, Garcia pleaded not guilty to charges of being an accessory after the fact to leaving the scene of an accident. His lawyer, Mark Berry, maintained that Garcia was the driver, and had been “forthright with police.”
“He did not leave the scene,” he said.
The car is registered to Garcia, he said. Garcia was ordered held on $5,000 bail. The case remains under investigation.