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SU coach Jim Boeheim hits, kills man walking on I-690

By Matt Bonesteel

Syracuse men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim hit and killed a man while driving his car on a Syracuse interstate shortly before midnight Wednesday, Syracuse Police announced Thursday.

The man, 51-year-old Jorge Jimenez of Syracuse, was outside his vehicle after it hit a guardrail in an unrelated crash on Interstate 690 on the city’s eastern fringe when Boeheim struck him. Jimenez was transported to a Syracuse hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Police said early indications are that the four people in the disabled car were trying to get across a guardrail to safety.

“As a result of the investigation so far, it was revealed that the victim was an occupant in a vehicle that had lost control on the highway striking a guard rail,” the Syracuse Police Department said in a statement. “The occupants then exited the vehicle and proceeded to walk on the highway within close proximity to that vehicle. An oncoming vehicle noticed the disabled car and tried avoiding the vehicle which was in the middle of the road. As a result, the driver, James Boeheim, 74, of Fayetteville NY struck the victim who was standing on the side of the road.

"Both drivers remained on the scene and are cooperating with this investigation. Field sobriety and alco-sensor tests for both drivers were negative for any signs of impairment. Reconstruction of the scene will be performed and speeds cannot be determined at this time.”

Police said Boeheim tried to warn other cars with his cell phone light after the incident.

Boeheim's blood-alcohol registered a .00, Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick confirmed. Friends and family told the Post-Standard that Boeheim does not drink alcohol.

"This is a horrible, sad tragedy," Fitzpatrick said. "The story is newsworthy because of the notoriety of the coach but this was an accident plain and simple. He is the most famous and in some ways beloved person in Central New York."

The Orange defeated Louisville earlier that night at the Carrier Dome in a game that ended around 9 p.m. Eastern. Boeheim spoke to the media at 10 p.m.

Driving conditions after the game were icy in spots. It’s unclear if that played any role in the initial crash or Boeheim’s involvement. Police said the disabled vehicle was blocking all but one lane on I-690 and it would have been difficult to see, given the darkness and road conditions.

Boeheim released a statement Thursday through Syracuse basketball social media:

Fitzpatrick, a longtime friend of Boeheim, said the coach wanted to reach out to the family of the victim but was advised against doing so because of legal reasons. He does, however, want to spend time with them when appropriate, Fitzpatrick said.

Boeheim met briefly with his team Thursday, but did not attend practice.

Syracuse plays Duke on a Saturday in a highly anticipated game. ESPN College GameDay was scheduled to broadcast from the Carrier Dome but will instead broadcast from ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn.

“Due to the recent tragedy, and after careful consideration due to the celebratory nature of the show, ESPN’s College GameDay will originate from ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., this weekend, instead of at Syracuse University," spokeswoman Anna Negron said in a statement. "We spoke with school officials and they understand the decision.”

 

The Syracuse Post-Standard contributed to this report.

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