This story has been updated to include comments from the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, the Morristown mayor and the Morris County Freeholders.
An elderly woman struck Friday by a detective’s SUV in Morristown has died, MorristownGreen.com has learned.
The identities of the victim and driver have not been released, but residents of the Ann Street seniors complex on Saturday said the victim was 80-year old Galina Kustanovich, a Russian immigrant who lived there with her husband, Vladimir, for more than a decade.
Morristown Green previously reported that the driver was Lt. Christie Allegretta of the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office.
A spokesman for Prosecutor Fredric Knapp said on Saturday that the investigation has been turned over to the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office, to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
Jason Statuto, chief assistant prosecutor for Passaic County, said the state Division of Criminal Justice has asked his office to investigate whether criminal charges are warranted, a process that could take weeks or months. Findings in motor vehicle fatalities can range from no criminality to vehicular homicide or aggravated manslaughter, he said.
In the interim, administrative decisions about whether to suspend or reassign the detective rest with the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, Statuto said..
Kustanovich was returning from a walk shortly after 2 pm on Friday, crossing Ann Street approaching the driveway to the seniors complex, when neighbor Nadia Kirsanova, sitting on a bench outside the apartments, heard a loud boom.
A black-colored vehicle had made a left turn from Schuyler Place into the crosswalk, knocking Kustanovich backward onto the pavement and trapping her beneath the vehicle, said Kirsanova, also a Russian immigrant.
A “Spanish woman” jumped from the vehicle, exclaiming hysterically, Kirsanova said.
It took 30- to 40 minutes for rescue personnel to extricate the woman, the neighbor estimated. The accident occurred behind the Morris County Courthouse and the Ann/Bank street garage, an area with security cameras. Asked if the accident was captured on video, Statuto said he could not comment on evidence.
Residents said Kustanovich died on Friday. Morristown Public Safety Director Michael Corcoran Jr. confirmed this on Saturday afternoon.
On Friday, Morristown authorities said the victim was believed to have sustained compound fractures to her legs.
Kustanovich was a “very, very good woman” who, despite health problems, took a walk almost every day with her husband, “a very good man, a very good family,” said Kirsanova, in halting English.
Vladimir Kustanovich did not accompany his wife on Friday’s walk, according to Kirsanova. When she went to his apartment and informed him of the accident, he “was in shock,” Kirsanova said. The retired couple have two grown children, a daughter and a son, she said.
“We are saddened to hear about the tragic accident and death of one of our beloved tenants. Our thoughts are with her family at this difficult time,” said Morristown Housing Authority Executive Director Keith Kinard, referring further questions to authorities.
Condolences also came from Mayor Tim Dougherty, and from the Morris County Freeholders.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the woman who was killed and her family,” Dougherty said.
“Board Members lament Mrs. Kustanovich’s passing and will remember her in their thoughts and prayers,” the Freeholders said in a statement, extending “deepest sympathies” to the victim’s family.
“The accident, which involved a county government motor vehicle operated by a Morris County employee, is under investigation by the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office and the Morristown Police Department,” the statement said.
This is Morristown’s second pedestrian fatality in the last year.
Last month, Morristown officials rolled out a pedestrian safety campaign that included special street signs and increased enforcement.
It was the campaign’s third year.