Hector Caustrita
Hector Caustrita

LOWELL -- As 86-year-old Elmer Mortensen lay bleeding in the street after being struck by a car, police allege the driver of that car, Hector Caustrita, got out of his car, looked at the dying man, got back into his car and drove off.

Caustrita, 21, of Lowell, allegedly admitted to his brother that he was "scared and in trouble,'' prosecutor Clarence Brown said during Caustrita's Lowell District Court arraignment Thursday. Caustrita's brother, Joseph, told police his brother was crying and admitted he "hit someone and the person appeared to be dead,'' Brown said.

In Lowell District Court, Judge Catherine Byrne released Caustrita, who has no record, on $1,500 cash bail after he pleaded not guilty to leaving the scene of an accident after death in the June 4 fatal hit and run crash.

Shortly before 11 p.m., Lowell police responded to a hit and run where they found Mortensen fatally injured at the intersection of Westford and Windsor streets. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Near his body was broken glass, his shoes, a hat, an eyeglass case and his cane, Brown said.

Witnesses told police they saw the driver of the car stop after hitting Mortensen, get out of his car and walk over to Mortensen, who was bleeding profusely, utter a profanity, then get back into his car and drive off, Brown said.

Witnesses were able to provide police with a description of the car -- a 2003 Volkswagen GTI -- the license plate and a description of the driver. Police located the heavily damaged car at around 2 a.m. about three miles from the crash scene.

There were bits of hair and blood on the car's windshield, along with a pair of eyeglasses, Brown said.

Shortly after the crash, Caustrita allegedly called his brother and his mother. His brother, Joseph, told police that his brother fled the scene because he was scared and "didn't know what to do,"" Brown said.

In court, defense attorney Michael Manzi agreed to all the conditions proposed by the prosecutor except a GPS monitoring device. Manzi said his client, who was in court with his mother and sister, did not pose a flight risk.

The Registry of Motor Vehicles has suspended Caustrita's driver's license as an immediate threat, Manzi said. Even so, Byrne listed as one of the conditions of Caustrita's release that he not drive. He is required to stay away and have contact with a list of witnesses except his family, and report to probation every two weeks.

His next court date is a probable cause hearing on July 22.