NORTH ARLINGTON, N.J. -- The lawyer for a North Arlington plumber charged with fleeing the scene after his pickup truck struck a Moonachie woman on Route 46 in Clifton last week told Daily Voice that his client "feels horrible" about what happened but didn't realize he'd hit someone.
Michael Choynowski, 27, heard something as he drove along a pitch-black section of the highway between two brightly lighted areas, attorney Emile Lisboa said, but "he was terrified, he panicked" after striking 22-year-old Anna Semioli.
The crash left Semioli in a coma at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center.
“Unfortunately it doesn’t change the outcome of what happened to my sister,” Gina Semioli told Daily Voice earlier on Thursday afternoon, hours after her sister, Anna, underwent emergency surgery. “I can’t say I’m glad, because he maybe could have helped her.”
Lisboa said Choynowski checked the rear window and mirrors of his his Dodge Ram 1500 pickup but didn't see anything. He kept driving, took the next exit, then went to his night job nearby, the attorney said.
An Eagle Scout, Choynowski had never been in trouble before, Lisboa said. After discovering what happened, he went to his Scoutmaster for advice.
The Scoutmaster brought him to Lisboa, also an Eagle Scout.
“I contacted the prosecutor last night (Wednesday), and arranged for him to surrender as soon as possible," the attorney told Daily Voice. "We brought him in this morning.
"We gave an interview, and he gave investigators a statement and answered all their questions. He is cooperating completely.”
That includes surrendering his truck to investigators, Lisboa said.
"Then we went to court, and posted $30,000 bail," he said.
"He came in because it was his duty and his responsibility,” Lisboa said.
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