Cops & Crime

Eastport Hit-and-Run Driver Peter Torrillo Pleads Guilty, Set to Be Sentenced

A man who pleaded guilty to the November 2, 2013, hit-and-run death of a young mother in Eastport is set to be sentenced Tuesday in Central Islip at State Supreme Court.

Peter Torrillo, 48, of Eastport, fled the scene after striking Erika Strebel, who died, and her passenger, Edward Barton, who was severely injured.

Strebel, a 27-year-old Eastport resident, was putting gas in her 1988 Jeep Cherokee, which was in the shoulder of Montauk Highway, when she was struck, according to authorities.

On the night of the incident, Strebel was taken by East Moriches Ambulance to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead where she was pronounced dead, while Barton, 26, of East Moriches, was airlifted by Suffolk County police medevac helicopter to Stony Brook University Hospital for treatment of head and knee injuries.

“A witness reported a large truck heading east with one headlight out just before driving past the scene of the crash,” Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said. “Prosecutors in our Vehicular Crimes Bureau eventually prepared and executed a search warrant to recover the vehicle when we learned the defendant took his 1999 pick-up truck to a body shop in Queens. The county crime lab matched paint chips at the crash scene to Torrillo’s GMC Sierra.”

In a statement to police, Torrillo said that he went to Center Moriches to listen a band after the accident, according to Spota.

Spota said that this case highlights the need for more severe hit-and-run laws.

“A drunk or drug impaired driver who kills someone may face up to 25 years in prison.  But fleeing the accident scene allows the wrongdoer a chance to sober up, and under the current law, any driver guilty of a hit and run faces a maximum prison sentence of seven years – even when someone dies and even if the defendant has a prior felony record,” he said.

The current system encourages an impaired driver to flee the scene, he added. “It’s time to close this loophole in the state’s vehicle and traffic law and give us the tools to ensure that intoxicated drivers are held accountable.”

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