Fairfield police arrest suspect in fatal hit-and-run

Declan P. Kot, a 22-year-old Easton resident, was arrested and charged for his alleged involvement in a fatal hit-and-run crash on Saturday, July 4.

Declan P. Kot, a 22-year-old Easton resident, was arrested and charged for his alleged involvement in a fatal hit-and-run crash on Saturday, July 4.

/ Fairfield Police Department

FAIRFIELD — A 22-year-old Easton man has been charged in connection with a fatal hit-and-run that killed a Pennsylvania woman out walking her dog, according to police.

Fairfield Police Department Chief Christopher Lyddy said Declan P. Kot has been charged with allegedly striking and killing Marileidy Morel Araujo, a 32-year-old from of Matamoras, Pa.

Kot is a firefighter with Easton Volunteer Fire Co. No. 1, according to the company’s website. A person named Declan Kot is also listed as a constable on Easton’s wesbite. According to Kot’s Linkedin, he is the owner of Black Duck Landscapes LLC.

Lyddy said Kot has been charged with misconduct with a motor vehicle, evading responsibility in operating a motor vehicle resulting in death, failure to drive in proper lane, operating a motor vehicle without fenders, tampering with evidence, operation of a motor vehicle with tinted windows without tinting sticker and operation of vehicle with tinted windshield.

Lyddy said Araujo was struck and killed on Saturday night between 7:30 and 7:45 in the area of 2000 Redding Road. He said the operator of the vehicle fled the scene before police arrived.

“The victim was visiting family in Fairfield, and was walking her dog at the time of the crash,” Lyddy said. “Two passing motorists found the victim lying in the roadway and called 911.”

During the initial investigation, police were looking into a dark-colored Jeep Wrangler described as involved in the crash. On Tuesday night, authorities said they determined that the suspect vehicle was likely a larger vehicle.

“On Monday, July 6, members of the Fairfield Police Quality of Life Unit, Crash Investigation Unit and Easton Police canvassed the Redding Road area and made contact with residents on Redding Road who were able to provide video of the roadway during the time frame that the crash occurred,” Lyddy said.

According to Lyddy, the video showed a white Dodge Ram pickup truck with black rims and a large American flag flying from a pole attached to the rear tow hitch driving north on Redding Road. Police also found a clear marker lens and other debris from the suspect vehicle.

“Additional video was obtained of the same vehicle at other locations throughout the day on July 4,” Lyddy said. “Images of the vehicle were analyzed by detectives and a complete description and images of the suspect vehicle were distributed to law enforcement personnel.”

The chief said patrol officers located a Dodge Ram fitting the description traveling on North Benson Road and stopped the vehicle. He said Kot was driving.

“Kot was subsequently interviewed at Fairfield Police Headquarters. Based on information obtained during the interview, an arrest warrant was issued for Kot on Wednesday, July 8,” he said. Kot was arrested that night.

Lyddy said Kot is scheduled to appear at Bridgeport Superior Court on July 15 and was released after posting a $150,000 bond under the condition that he not operate any motor vehicle pending arraignment before the Superior Court and permission being granted by the court.

“The collaborative and resolute efforts of all involved personnel are a shining example of the persistence, dedication and professionalism continually exhibited by the men and women of the Fairfield Police Department,” Lyddy said. “We would like to again thank the several hundred individuals who provided potential leads and tips throughout the investigation.”

First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick said Araujo’s death was a tragedy for the victim and her family, adding that she hoped it would serve as a reminder for residents to slow down and be alert while driving.

“My thoughts and sincere prayers are with the young woman’s family during this very difficult time,” Kupchick said.

She said she wanted to thank the entire community, who came together with information to help solve the case.

“I’m proud of the quick work of the Fairfield Police Department, that worked tirelessly to comb through the thousands of tips received from residents, the Easton Police Department for their assistance and to all the vigilant neighbors who stepped up to offer to be helpful,” Kupchick said.

This incident remains under investigation by the Fairfield Police Crash Reconstruction Unit. Anyone with additional information or surveillance video is asked to contact Crash Reconstruction Supervisor Sgt. Michael Paris at mparis@fairfieldct.org or 203-254-4862.

Editor’s note: This story originally reported that Kot’s Linkedin stated he was an accounting student at Sacred Heart University. SHU officials said Kot is not currently enrolled at the university.