Pedestrian struck by detective vehicle in Morristown has died

Nadia Kirsanova points to Ann Street crosswalk where her neighbor, Galina Kustanovich, 80, was fatally struck. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Nadia Kirsanova points to Ann Street crosswalk where her neighbor, Galina Kustanovich, 80, was fatally struck. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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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.

Galina Kustanovich, 80, was crossing Ann Street, in a crosswalk, heading for her seniors complex, pictured on the right, when she was hit by a vehicle turning left off Schuyler Place, according to a neighbor. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Galina Kustanovich, 80, was crossing Ann Street, in a crosswalk, heading for her seniors complex, pictured on the right, when she was hit by a vehicle turning left off Schuyler Place, according to a neighbor. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

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 summer, a Honduran immigrant was killed on Martin Luther King Avenue by a hit and run driver, in a case that remains unsolved.

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.

 

Blue paint from police on Ann Street, site of a pedestrian fatality on June 7, 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Blue paint from police on Ann Street, site of a pedestrian fatality on June 7, 2019. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

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6 COMMENTS

  1. I have no doubt that the Morristown police department, Morris count prosecutors office and whoever else is involved will in face sweep it under the rug like they do everything else. I have lived in Morristown for several years. I have seen several crimes and reported them all and nothing was ever investigated or done about anything. From small misdemeanors to serious violent crimes. This town is probably the worst town in terms of police protection. All you need is a little bit of money to pay off the police and your good. It’s sad but true. Which is why I’m leaving this unsafe town to move to somewhere I feel I am protected by the law and the law enforcement team. Not the money hungry group that parades around in uniforms and hides behind black tinted windows.

  2. The war is on in Morristown against pedestrians.

    Under the name of Pedestrian Safety Campaign, pedestrians are guilty if still alive, and even guiltier if dead. Have the police issued a summons yet for the woman who died?

  3. “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.”
    Well, the next question to ask is if the video cameras were in working order.

  4. Seems there could be no excuse for her to run down a pedistrian in a cross walk. The victim was almost across, why did she not see her ? If quity of carelessness, I hope she is charged, fired, and looses her pension. NO benefits at all for her. Give her pension to the family. Set an example of her please Passaic County. Time will tell.

  5. I bet this gets swept away without charges . Pedestrian safety is a big issue in town . Please file criminal charges !

  6. Very sad, but not a surprise. I have had several police cars blow by me while I stood in a cross walk. The police department is apathetic when it comes to ensuring general pedestrian safety. They do not enforce or penalize those that run red lights, make right turns on red without first coming to a complete stop, not stopping at stop signs, speeding down South and side streets and disregarding pedestrians in cross walks. Sad to say, but it is only a matter of time before another pedestrian will be killed. The police favor drivers in this town. And for a police officer to strike a pedestrian in this town … Shameful and defines the tone they set.

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