Saratoga County District Attorney Karen A. Heggen announced today that Patrick F. Phelan (dob 5/26/67), of Saratoga Springs, pled guilty Thursday morning April 22, 2021 in Saratoga County Court to the top count of the Indictment against him, Aggravated Vehicular Assault, a class “C” felony, in violation of New York State Penal Law Section 120.04-a(1), and one count of Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree, a class “A” misdemeanor, in violation of New York State Penal Law Section 120.20, before the Honorable James A. Murphy, III.
Patrick F. Phelan admitted in Court that on November 15, 2020 he operated a motor vehicle in an intoxicated condition, striking and causing serious physical injury to Andrew Fincke, a 72-year-old pedestrian as he was jogging on the shoulder of Ballston Avenue in the City of Saratoga Springs. Phelan’s plea also included his admission that his actions in November endangered the life of a young female passenger in the backseat of his vehicle, whom he was driving to work via the LYFT ride sharing company.
The subsequent investigation revealed that Phelan had been drinking alcohol into the early morning hours of November 15, 2020. He then left his residence in Saratoga Springs in a red 2019 Jeep Renegade, activated his LYFT ridesharing app and began picking up fares. Just before 9 a.m., he picked up a young female in the Town of Milton and began traveling east into the City of Saratoga Springs. As Phelan approached what was to be the scene of the crash, he swerved out of his lane, crossed over onto the right shoulder and struck Fincke from behind, launching him into the air. Phelan then fled the scene of the crash with the young female still in the backseat. Fincke suffered head trauma and severe injuries to his legs and torso and was transported to Albany Medical Center for treatment.
Eye witnesses observed that Phelan’s vehicle never used its brakes or attempted to avoid the collision. One of the witnesses was able to take down Phelan’s license plate as he drove away; the witness gave the license plate number and a description of the vehicle to police. Phelan’s red Jeep Renegade was later spotted traveling northbound on Broadway with a young female passenger in the back seat. Patrolman Zachary Ferris of the Saratoga Springs Police Department saw that Phelan’s vehicle had heavy front-end damage and a smashed front windshield; after a brief vehicle pursuit, Ptl. Ferris stopped the vehicle on Marion Avenue.
A chemical test of Phelan’s blood revealed that Phelan was operating his vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.33% — more than four times the legal limit.
DA Heggen said that “Phelan’s decision to get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle after consuming a significant amount of alcohol demonstrated his disregard for the safety of others on the roadways of our community. It is especially egregious that he was also driving with a BAC of .33 while actively working as a vehicle for hire. His reckless and selfish actions have forever impacted the life of Mr. Fincke, as well as a young LYFT passenger who was trapped in the defendant’s vehicle as he fled the scene”.
DA Heggen recognized the efforts of Assistant District Attorney Shawn M. Lescault, who prosecuted the case, Crime Victim Specialist Ashley Kitts, District Attorney Investigator Jack Barney, as well as the Saratoga Springs Police Department and the New York State Police Crash Reconstruction Unit. Heggen noted: “Assistant District Attorney Lescault was prepared to try this case, and would not have been able to obtain this conviction without the tireless efforts of law enforcement and the civilian witnesses. With the cooperation of the police and witnesses of this crime we were able to bring justice to the victims in this case, and the residents of Saratoga County who expect a safe ride home.”
Sentencing is scheduled for June 24, 2021 at 1:30 p.m. The Defendant is expected to be sentenced to a state prison term of 3 to 9 years. In addition, the Defendant’s driver’s license will be revoked.