SCHENECTADY -- City police have made an arrest in connection with a hit-and-run crash on Jan. 12 that left a pedestrian seriously injured.
Police made the arrest after the suspect admitted to a fellow patron of a bar -- who also happened to be a retired police officer -- that he hit the pedestrian, according to the victim's daughter, who said that is what investigators told her.
As a result of their investigation, and with the help of information from witnesses who came forward, police have arrested 64-year-old Clifford Oathout, of Amsterdam. He faces one count of leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, a felony.
The crash happened just before 6:30 p.m. near the corner of Erie Boulevard and Union Street.
The victim, Jet Thackrah, suffered extensive injuries and was taken to Albany Medical Center. He was placed into a medically induced coma. He suffered a fractured skull, broken ribs and a traumatic brain injury.
He has since been moved to Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital but still has a long recovery ahead of him, family said Friday.
The investigation appeared to stall early on, as police and family appealed for witnesses to come forward. The city has an extensive street camera system, but there are none at the intersection where the accident happened.
Police now believe Oathout, driving a Ford F250 Super Duty pickup truck south on Erie Boulevard, struck Thackrah as he tried to cross Erie, according to documents filed in court.
Those documents do not describe the crash further, or assign fault as to the cause of the crash. The charge, though, doesn't require fault to be found, only that the driver left the scene without reporting it.
In the days after the crash, family members appealed to the public for help in finding the "heartless" driver who left Thackrah behind.
Daughter Brittany Thackrah repeated that sentiment Friday, after his arrest.
"He didn't come forward even after he admitted it to somebody," the daughter said. "How heartless can you be?"
Police also told the family that Oathout returned to the scene of the crash that evening and remained there for 20 to 30 minutes. He never identified himself as the driver who hit Thackrah, the daughter said, citing police.
Family have described Thackrah as an outgoing man, the kind who could strike up a conversation with anyone. He formerly worked as an investigator with the state Department of Labor and lived in Amsterdam. His name is actually James Thackrah, but he is known by his initials, Jet.
The 55-year-old moved to Schenectady about a year ago to pursue a new career through Schenectady County Community College in casino management. He lived on Front Street and often would walk around the neighborhood.
At Sunnyview, he is now conscious but is not completely coherent, his daughter said. He can blink his eyes in response to questions and react to family.
The daughter recalled visiting her father this past Tuesday.
"When I got into the room, his eyes got big, he smiled and he reached up almost to hug me," Brittany Thackrah said. "It brought tears to my eyes. It made me so happy.
"We've got a long road of recovery ahead of us now, but at least they've apprehended who's responsible for the suffering and injuries my poor dad sustained."