Saratoga County

Lyft driver pleads guilty to vehicular assault in Saratoga Springs hit-and-run


A Saratoga Springs man who was working as a Lyft driver has pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular assault for a Nov. 15, 2020 hit-and-run that seriously injured a 72-year-old jogger.

Patrick F. Phelan, 53, pleaded guilty on Thursday and is expected to be sentenced to three to nine years in state prison when he next appears before Saratoga County Court Judge James A. Murphy III on June 24, according to District Attorney Karen A. Heggen’s office. He will also have his driver’s license revoked.

Phelan has admitted he was driving intoxicated when he hit Andrew Fincke, who was jogging on the shoulder of Ballston Avenue in the city. Heggen’s office said the plea also included an acknowledgment that his conduct endangered the life of a young female passenger in the back seat, whom he was driving to work after she had hired him through the Lyft ride-hailing app.

The investigation showed that Phelan was drinking into the early morning hours on Nov. 15, then left his residence in his 2019 Jeep Renegade, activated his Lyft app, and began picking up fares. Just before 9 a.m., he picked up the female passenger in Milton, and was driving east into Saratoga Springs when Fincke was struck from behind, launching him into the air. Phelan left the scene with his passenger.

Prosecutors said Fincke suffered head trauma and severe leg injuries, and was taken to Albany Medical Center for treatment.

Witnesses said Phelan never braked or attempted to avoid the collision, and one was able to get a license plate and vehicle description. Patrolman Zachary Ferris spotted the vehicle going north on Broadway, noted it had heavy front-end damage and a smashed front windshield, and stopped it on Marion Avenue after a brief pursuit. Police said a chemical tested showed he had a 0.33 blood alcohol count — four times the legal limit.

“Assistant District Attorney (Shawn) 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 civilian witnesses,” Heggen said.




Categories: News, Saratoga County

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