Greece Police and hit-and-run victim looking for help from witnesses
GREECE, N.Y. — A Greece man, crossing West Ridge Road in a crosswalk, got run over by a motorcycle — and more than a week later, no arrests have been made. The assault happened the Sunday before Labor Day. The victim was just released from the hospital and, Wednesday, he spoke exclusively with News10NBC Investigative Reporter Jennifer Lewke.
Geoffrey Ballard is a physical education teacher at Eugenio María de Hostos Charter School. He loves the outdoors; just about a month ago, he got back from hiking the Appalachian Trail, “I hiked over 1,900 miles — I didn’t finish the whole trail because of timing and getting back to school, I wasn’t able to do that but I have 1,900 miles under my belt,” he tells News10NBC.
On Sunday, Sept. 3, he decided to add a few more steps to that total. He walked about 300 yards from his house to the Buffalo Wild Wings on West Ridge Road in Greece, “I cut through my backyard to go over and grab some wings and get a drink, and I was there probably not even an hour,” he recalls.
Around 8:30 p.m., he was crossing back over West Ridge Road in the crosswalk between Buffalo Wild Wings and Red Lobster when he heard the sound of motorcycles. “I kept hearing these high rpms but there was stopped traffic and I couldn’t figure out why … come to find out, these motorcycles were spitting lanes and going up through the three lanes of traffic,” he says. “Two of the bikes had come through the intersection and I kinda raised my hands up and looked at them knowing that I was in the crosswalk and had the right of way … and the next thing I know, I was hit by a third motorcyclist on my right side.”
Ballard was thrown nearly to the curb. “my first thought is there’s cars coming, it’s (the light) going to turn green so I’m trying to get off the road by crawling and I look down and things are … bones are popping out of my leg and I’m disoriented,” he recalls.
A short time later, a Rochester police officer reported seeing three motorcycles on West Ridge Road and Dewey Avenue. The officer followed the trio while waiting for additional officers to assist until the motorcycles reached Ridgeway Avenue and Mt. Read Boulevard. According to Greece Police, officers attempted to stop the motorcycles but all three took off westbound on Ridgeway Avenue.
At the light at Ridgeway Avenue and Latona Road, one of the motorcycles struck a vehicle. The driver of that motorcycle sustained an injury to his arm and was taken to URMC. A second motorcycle stopped, and the driver, 31 year-old Jason Hirtreiter of Albion, was charged with Driving While Intoxicated and Aggravated Unlicensed Operation. The third motorcycle fled the scene. Police said at the time that at least one of the motorcycles was identified as being involved in the original hit-and-run.
Ballard, meantime, was rushed to the hospital. “My tibia and fibula are both shattered in three different places, a total of six breaks; I have five broken ribs, bruises all over my body, I broke both thumbs, road rash all over my face and shoulder,” he explained.
Ballard spent a week at Strong Memorial Hospital before being released on Monday. “It could have been my life and those are the things I think back about … I could have died that day,” he says through tears.
When Ballard called Greece Police to check on the status of the investigation earlier this week, he was shocked at the answer he got. “They said something like, “We’re going to be completing our investigation and it’s going to be closed” or essentially something like that,” he recalls. “I was beside myself because it seemed like there wasn’t going to be anybody held accountable.”
Greece Police tell News10NBC that while the accident report is complete, the investigation is still ongoing. While some witnesses have come forward, they are looking for additional witnesses and pulling surveillance videos from nearby businesses to try and identify which motorcycle specifically hit Ballard.
“I want to live in a safe environment, I want to live in a safe community and when we have people that are senselessly running over people and not being held accountable for it, I don’t know if this is the place for me anymore,” Ballard says.
He’s hoping someone who was either stopped at the light or walking/biking and saw the motorcycles go by, will share information that will be helpful to police. Accountability, he says, will bring some peace as he fights to get back to doing the things he loves — “hiking, going out hunting, fishing, taking my dogs for a walks … it’s very hard emotionally to think about what could have been taken away from you … but also being very thankful for what I have, what I’ve been able to do and the things I still can do,” he says.
Anyone with any information on the case should contact Greece Police right away.