Community tips lead to arrest of driver in fatal hit-and-run

CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. (WHEC) — Over the weekend, Canandaigua Police arrested the person they say is responsible for the fatal hit and run crash in Canandaigua on Oct. 23 that claimed the life of Edwin Wesley of Canandaigua.

News10NBC’s Jenny Ly sat down with Canandaigua Police Chief Mathew Nielsen to learn more about that deadly crash. Nielsen says he attributes the successful investigation to the community coming together to help catch the driver.

“With realizing that people were anxiously waiting for a result, we had to be patient ourselves and make sure that we fully establish the investigation and develop all the leads that we could before we made the arrest,” Nielsen said.

Nielsen said for weeks after the hit and run, tips came pouring in from the community about the driver behind the green 1956 Ford pick-up truck. The tips included his whereabouts to help authorities piece together this day that ultimately led to the hit and run.

Police say Todd Smith, 54, of Canandaigua, was driving while intoxicated when he struck Wesley, 62, who was on his scooter, crossing the crosswalk on South Main Street.

“It’s a midblock crosswalk, which the City of Canandaigua has numerous midblock crosswalks," Nielsen said. "They’re clearly marked with marks on the ground, and they have signage on each side of the roadway to include in the median as well.”

Nielsen also said that given the volume of traffic and pedestrian traffic, it’s minimal to have accidents of this magnitude.

While the truck did stand out, the challenging part according to Nielsen was finding it. After a search warrant, law enforcement ultimately found the truck hiding in a storage unit outside of Canandaigua

“Hopefully we can provide the family with an avenue to some closure out of all of this – if that’s even possible," Nielsen said. "However, they did find a great deal of relief that the arrest was made."

Beyond Wesley’s family, the police chief hopes this will help the community, too.

“Definitely people were upset," Nielsen said. "Mr. Wesley was certainly known in the community, he was a familiar face in the downtown area. The scooter was his means of transportation. I think that just knowing him, knowing his disability and his friendliness in the community, it made it more difficult for people.”

Since Smith’s arrest, he has bailed out of the Ontario County Jail over the weekend. Smith faces two felony charges of vehicular manslaughter and leaving the scene of a fatal motor vehicle accident as well as a DWI. The date of his county court appearance is yet to be determined.