Family pleads for help in finding hit-and-run driver

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – It was around 9:30 in the morning on Friday, October 4, 2013 when Mohsin Nagi was hit by a stolen car and left to die.

“I thought it was horrible. I mean how someone could run somebody over and just leave them,” said George Faust, attorney for Mohsin Nagi.

Nagi, 76-years old at the time, can be seen in a surveillance video walking down Kensington Avenue on the city’s east side. Everything looks fine. Then the video shows him crossing Thatcher Avenue. He gets to the sidewalk. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a white car makes a wide left turn onto Thatcher, mowing down the elderly man.

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WARNING: Video is graphic

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“He didn’t come back to see if Mr. Nagi was okay. He didn’t call for any help. Nothing. He just fled the scene,” said Faust.

Nagi survived. But family members and his attorney say he’s left with permanent injuries. His life has changed forever.  As his son put it, he went from 70 to 90 years old.

The white car that hit Nagi actually rolled up on the sidewalk leaving Nagi very little time to react. Another video shows a person getting out of the driver’s side of the car. According to the police accident report, the driver fled from the vehicle north on Thatcher.

Asked if there’s still hope that this case can be solved, Buffalo Police Lt. Thomas Leatherbarrow responded, “This case is still open.”

“For someone to be that reckless and careless, and then to leave the person, to me it’s unimaginable,” said Faust.

Family members desperately want to find out who was in the driver’s seat that fateful day, their lawyer explained, “I’m certain that somebody knows something about this. We just need to find that person or have the person turn themselves in would be the most favorable.”

“I don’t think this was intentional to strike him. We haven’t had any information in our investigation to suggest that,” Lt. Thomas Leatherbarrow of the Buffalo Police Accident Investigation told News 4 Investigates.

Leatherbarrow said in addition to video of the incident, investigators were able to get statements from witnesses and collect evidence from the vehicle. However, eight months have gone by and still no arrests in the case.

Based on what the video shows, Leatherbarrow said the driver appears to be a young black male in his mid 20′s, 5 feet 7 inches tall, wearing tan or gold pants and a dark colored shirt.

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Police are looking to identify the man shown fleeing the vehicle in this video.

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“Whether he panicked or whatever, but at some point that person should come forward and do the right thing,” Leatherbarrow said.

According to the accident report, the vehicle was registered to Tony Payne of Buffalo.

Payne told News 4 Investigates that he was out of town on the day that the accident happened, and added it wasn’t until the next day that he learned that his vehicle was stolen from his aunt’s home on Arden Avenue in Buffalo. “Really didn’t know too much about it – who was hit – I didn’t know the guy, didn’t know who stole it,” Payne explained.

Payne’s aunt, Ida Fiorito, said she and Payne were visiting relatives in Indiana, and rented a car to get there. She said while they were gone, a friend came by to check on her house and found the front door open and items from inside the residence missing.  She said they talked by phone. “He let me know some things of value, what’s gone. And I says, ‘What about the cars in the driveway?’ and that’s when he informed me that only my car was in the driveway and my nephew’s car was gone,” Fiorito said.

Firoito said that the car keys were in the house. Whoever took the car went inside the house to get the keys, she said, “And whatever else they took out of my house , in the car and went about their business.” Fiorito said she told her friend to call the police.

According to police, the driver that hit Nagi appears to be a young black male in his mid 20′s, 5 feet 7 inches tall, wearing tan or gold pants and a dark colored shirt.

Leatherbarrow told News 4 Investigates Buffalo Police have confirmed “to the best that we can that they did in fact leave and go out of town for a few days.”

“We’ve had contact with the E District detectives to try and work both cases together seeing that they’re most likely hand-in-hand,” he added.

But police say so far they have not had any luck coming up with enough evidence to make an arrest; not in the break-in on Arden Avenue  where the vehicle was reported stolen, nor in the hit-and-run on Thatcher Avenue, which is located about a mile away.

Ida Fiorito hopes the person who struck Mohsin Nagi with her nephew’s car does the right thing and comes forward. “If nothing else this individual who was hit deserves to know, you know, who’s the person responsible for ruining his life,” she said.

Attorney George Faust says his client suffered serious brain damage, and that initially it was unclear whether Nagi would be able to survive.

“He still could die as a result of this,” according to Faust. “It’s not like it’s just healed or anything like that. I mean, he could still have complications, and he still could die. This could turn into a murder or negligent homicide.”

Anyone with information is asked to call the Buffalo Police confidential TIPCALL line at 847-2255 or email tips@bpdny.org.

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