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Ramapo Daily Voice serves Airmont, Chestnut Ridge, Hillburn, Hillcrest, Kaser, Monsey, Montebello, Mount Ivy, New Hempstead, New Square, Pomona, Sloatsburg, Spring Valley, Suffern, Tallman, Viola & Wesley Hills

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Suffern Man Convicted Of Vehicular Assault, DWI After Head-On Crash

Jonathan Elwell, 35
Jonathan Elwell, 35 Photo Credit: Rockland County District Attorney's Office

ROCKLAND COUNTY, N.Y. -- A Suffern man was convicted Tuesday of vehicular assault and DWI after leaving the scene of a crash that left a man seriously injured, according to Rockland County District Attorney Thomas P. Zugibe.

Jonathan Elwell, 35, was convicted by a jury for the head-on crash in Ramapo on Oct. 14, 2015, that nearly killed the other driver.

“The defendant’s decision to get behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol resulted in serious injury to an innocent man," Zugibe said. "His conduct that early morning clearly demonstrated that he is a threat to public safety. This case is another example of the terrible consequences that often result from drinking and driving.”

The crash happened at 12:48 a.m. when Elwell, who was driving a 2011 Mercedes-Benz westbound on Route 202 in Montebello, collided head-on with the victim’s 2001 Cadillac.

Immediately following the collision, an eyewitness saw Elwell attempting to re-start his vehicle’s engine. When the car would not start, he ran down Route 202 and stumbled into a wooded area, Zugibe said.

Approximately three hours later, Elwell contacted Ramapo Police and told them he was involved in a traffic accident and had blacked out, but remembered the accident, but nothing else except he was alone in the car, the DA's Office said.

Officers located Elwell at the intersection of Route 202 and Bayard Lane, a half-mile from the accident site in an intoxicated state.

More than five hours after the collision, experts put his blood alcohol content at .11 percent, the DA's Office said,

An investigation into the crash revealed that Elwell did not brake or attempt to avoid a collision with the victim’s Cadillac, as the victim attempted unsuccessfully to avoid being struck.

The victim was treated at both Good Samaritan Hospital and Westchester Medical Center, where he underwent multiple surgeries on his left leg, right hip and right foot. The accident left the victim unable to walk without the use of a cane.

Elwell faces a maximum of seven years in state prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 19.

Senior Assistant District Attorney Michael Dugandzic and Assistant District Attorney Marissa Licata prosecuted the case.

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