Attorneys for the family of the man killed in a horrific Albany hit-and-run accident have filed a notice of claim against Albany County in connection with the police chase that was in progress at the time of the accident.
The attorney for the family said Thursday that the notice, which is a precursor to a potential lawsuit, was filed to protect the family’s options. No decision has been made on whether to proceed against the county. More information is needed before that decision is made, attorney E. Stewart Jones said.
The deadline for filing a notice of claim, though, is 90 days, prompting the recent filing. The deadline was today.
Jones represents the family of Paul J. Merges Jr., 45, a bicyclist who was struck and killed on Manning Boulevard in Albany by a truck driven by Pablo Cruz of Schenectady. Merges was a father of two and a longtime state employee.
Police said Cruz was drunk and speeding while being pursued by an Albany County sheriff’s investigator. Cruz, who had recently been released from prison, didn’t even slow down after striking Merges, police said. Instead, he sped up.
Merges‘ body, entangled in the truck’s ladder rack above the smashed windshield, wasn’t recovered until the driver’s truck gave out more than a dozen miles west, in Rotterdam.
Cruz, 39, of 1060 Helderberg Ave., Schenectady, was released from prison earlier in November after serving 21 months of a 24-month sentence on a drug conviction.
He now faces one count each of second-degree manslaughter and second-degree vehicular manslaughter, along with driving while intoxicated. He faces up to 15 years in prison, if convicted. He also has two prior felony convictions, which could affect his sentence upon conviction.
The notice of claim against the county centers on the chase that preceded the accident. Jones said the family would have a case against the driver, Cruz, but they won’t know if they have a case against the county for another six months or so.
Merges was a graduate of St. Pius X School in Loudonville and attended St. Bonaventure University. He then worked for the state for nearly 20 years in the Education and Taxation and Finance departments.
Albany County Attorney Thomas Marcelle could not be reached Thursday.