As hit-and-run investigations go, the case against Reginald Alls was not among the hardest to crack.
He drove past a stop sign, struck another car seriously injuring the driver and then crashed into a concrete wall. But when he ran away from the crash scene, he left behind his learner's permit and cellphone. He also left a hat and an empty liquor bottle, and the DNA analysis on the items helped lead to his arrest.
His guilty plea Friday to leaving the scene of a serious injury crash made him the twelfth defendant either charged or whose case was resolved out of 17 hit-and-runs this year in Erie County. Five cases remain under investigation.
Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn can't explain the rash of hit-and-run cases.
"These things come in cycles," Flynn said.
But he's quick to credit police agencies for their work investigating the incidents.
"All the law enforcement agencies in Erie County have recognized this as a problem, and it’s a priority," Flynn said. "They've done a great job in helping us solve these cases."
The Alls case was unique in a couple of ways: His crime happened in the afternoon and he left behind plenty of evidence, Flynn said.
But often, hit-and-run cases happen when no one else saw what happened.
"Those kinds of cases are very different because you don't have witnesses at night or no cameras," Flynn said. "If someone doesn't leave anything behind, or no one's around at 4 or 5 in the morning, and there are no cameras around, then you have a difficult time."
Alls, 31, of Buffalo, pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an incident resulting in serious physical injury. His crash in March left a woman with spinal fractures and broken ribs, legs and sternum.
At about 4 p.m. March 5, Alls was driving the wrong way on Garner Avenue, a one-way street, near Grant Street, where he ran a stop sign and hit a car with three occupants.
Alls faces up to four years in prison when sentenced Dec. 7.
The case was prosecuted by Kelley A. Omel , chief of the DA’s Vehicular Crimes Bureau.
Flynn found little in common among the defendants his offices has prosecuted this year.
"They're all different ages and races and come from different backgrounds," Flynn said.
Panic seems to be "the common thread," Flynn said.
"People get into an accident and say to themselves, 'Oh, my God! My life is ruined.' They may or may not have been drinking. We don’t know if they take off. They may have been drinking and now they've hit something and panic and make the stupid decision to take off.
"I can't excuse that," he said. "Obviously, I understand if they're in panic mode. But I can't give someone a pass for making an irrational decision."