Fairfield Police: Driver at fault for hitting pedestrian

The Fairfield Police Department headquarters on Reef Road.

The Fairfield Police Department headquarters on Reef Road.

/ Josh LaBella

FAIRFIELD — A Fairfield man has been charged with striking an Operation Hope volunteer coordinator with his vehicle as she walked in a crosswalk, police say.

Fairfield police Lt. Antonio Granata said Richard Zogheb, 57, was arrested and charged with failure to grant the right of way to a pedestrian within a marked crosswalk and second-degree assault of an elderly person after he allegedly hit Donna Schmidt, 65, on Nov. 20.

That evening, Granata said, police responded to a call for a motor vehicle striking a pedestrian in the crosswalk in front of 636 Old Post Road. Officers determined that Zogheb was driving westbound on the Old Post Road and struck Schmidt while she was in the crosswalk. Zogheb stayed at the scene following the crash.

“Schmidt was struck with the front end of Zogheb’s SUV,” Granata said. “Schmidt was found lying on her back in the roadway of Old Post Road when first responders arrived and was transported to St. Vincent’s Medical Center with serious physical injuries.”

Granata said an investigation was conducted by the Fairfield Police Crash Reconstruction Unit, a group within the department whose investigations discover a series of factors that may indicate the cause of a crash.

“Investigators are trained to determine speed of a traveling vehicle, if an operator is driving impaired and forensic vehicle and phone analysis to determine if an operator is driving distracted,” he said. “They collect all physical evidence at the scene, interview witnesses, scour neighborhoods for video, take photographs and capture 3D measurement and imaging utilizing realization technology for evidentiary and memorialization purposes.”

Granata said the investigation revealed that Zogheb had a clear line of sight and should have seen a person in the crosswalk but for some unknown reason did not. As a result, Granata said, he caused serious physical injury to the pedestrian who was considered elderly by statute because of her age.

“She is still recovering from her injuries,” he said. “Investigators do not have any reason to believe that speed was a factor in this case.”

Granata later said Schmidt has been released from the hospital but has a long road to recovery.

Granata said a Superior Court arrest warrant was issued for Zogheb on Dec. 21. He said Zogheb cooperated with the investigation and turned himself in at Fairfield Police Headquarters the next day.

Zogheb’s arraignment is scheduled for Jan. 19, according to court documents.