82-year-old pedestrian killed in New Jersey hit and run; Police release photo of vehicle

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Friday, October 23, 2020
82-year-old pedestrian killed in NJ hit and run
Anthony Johnson has more on a hit-and-run in New Jersey that left an 82-year-old pedestrian dead this week.

CLARK, New Jersey (WABC) -- An 82-year-old pedestrian was killed in a hit and run in New Jersey this week, and police are hoping a photo of the vehicle involved will lead to an arrest.

James Leinbach was fatally struck around 6 a.m. Tuesday in the area of Raritan Road and Clarkton Drive in Clark, apparently on his way to The Clark Lunch Box, his favorite breakfast spot.

"He was a good guy," friend Ruth Venturella said. "He would help anybody out if he could. As a matter of fact, I have his phone number. He has mine. I told him if he ever needed help with anything, I would do it for him. I'd help him out."

Leinbach, an Army veteran, was found lying in the roadway and pronounced dead at the scene.

Related: Elderly man in wheelchair struck by vehicle on Upper East Side

Friends say he walked with a cane and was partially blind, but that never stopped him from heading to the Lunch Box, where he enjoyed his waffles, pancakes and eggs every morning. Owner Vhavesh Patel was devastated when he heard what happened.

"He's the first customer," he said. "Sometimes I'm late to open up, he sits out on the side of the curb waiting for me."

Regulars at the Lunch Box said he was nicknamed "Teach" because he had a lot of knowledge and stories that he loved to share with them.

Now, flowers have been placed outside his home.

"The most friendly person you want to meet," neighbor Phyllis Lewandowski said. "He talked to everyone in the complex. Nothing more to say except he was just so friendly."

Authorities believe he was hit by a red or maroon Chevrolet S-10 or GMC Sonoma pickup truck, model year 1994-2004, that was making a right turn and then fled the scene.

Related: Alleged drunk driver on Long Island may face upgraded charges after victim dies

They think the vehicle may have damage to its passenger side front fender and side-view mirror.

A joint investigation by members of the Union County Homicide Task Force, the Union County Police Department Fatal Accident Reconstruction Team, the Union County Sheriff's Office, and the Clark Police Department revealed that the suspect vehicle, after colliding with Leinbach, continued traveling east on Raritan Road, then made a right turn onto Central Avenue, heading toward the Garden State Parkway interchange.

UPDATE (November 12, 2020): Thiruvenk Srinivasan, 78, of Edison has been arrested and charged with a single count of second-degree leaving the scene of a fatal accident.


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