A driver’s side view mirror, which enabled police to identify the unique car involved in a hit and run involving a pedestrian on Feb. 21, and an alert Coventry officer who later spotted the car in a body shop, led to the arrest of a West Warwick man on Sunday.
The mirror, recovered at the scene of the accident on Post Road near Walmart in Norwood, came off a gray Acura RLX sedan. The mirror, Sgt. John Kelly explained Sunday, was custom made for the RLX. After checking with the Acura dealership and the registry, Kelly said, police learned there are only 20 RLXs in the state. The fact that it came off a gray car further limited the pool of possible owners.
Police issued a release on Saturday with a picture of a RLX and calling on the operator of the vehicle involved in the accident to come forward.
The accident occurred shortly before 9 p.m. on Saturday when Eduardo Amaral, 31, of Warwick attempted crossing Post Road. He was wearing a hat and dark clothing, said Officer Hovsep Sarkisian who, along with Officers Aaron Kay and Brian Chianese, followed up on the case. Amaral was not in a crosswalk. He was transported to Rhode Island Hospital, where he was in stable condition as of Sunday.
Coventry Police Officer A.J. Medeiros saw the notice on the RLX, and when he spotted a vehicle fitting the description in a local body shop he notified Warwick Police.
Sarkisian said the damage, including a dent in the hood, appeared consistent with striking a person and police seized the car. It is now in Warwick, where it will be processed for fingerprints and other evidence such as fibers from clothing that could link it directly to the victim.
Armed with the name and address of the vehicle’s owner, Warwick Police visited the West Warwick home of James Pinel, 58, on Saturday.
“He was very cooperative,” said Sarkisian. Police did not disclose any details of what Pinel said.
Pinel was charged with one count of duty to stop, accident resulting in personal injury/death. Pinel was arraigned in a special session of District Court and released on $2,000 with surety. His next court date will be held on March 6 in 3rd District Court.
Even if Coventry Police had not spotted an RLX in the body shop, Kelly is reasonably confident police would have tracked down the car. Admittedly, it would have taken longer, and by then repairs might have been completed. On the other hand, he said, had it been a red Camry, of which there are thousands, it may have been a different story.