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Update: Man charged in summer hit and run where bicyclist lost his leg

Posted at: 12/05/2012 2:26 PM
Updated at: 12/05/2012 5:58 PM
By: Berkeley Brean

Seven month ago an avid cyclist lost his leg when he was hit by a car driving past him. Now, the Ontario County District Attorney says he's charged the man who was behind the wheel.

John Stenzel was arraigned on two charges when the grand jury indictment against him was unsealed in court. The first charge is leaving the scene of an accident where there was serious physical injury. That's the legal term in New York for "hit and run."

The second charge is tampering with physical evidence. The DA says Stenzel stuffed deer hair or tissue into the damaged headlight of his car to make it seem like the damaged was caused by him hitting a deer.

"Presumably to set up an argument that he struck a deer or he believed he struck a deer, something to that effect," Tantillo said.

Tantillo says there was evidence left at the scene too, again he says from Stenzel's car.

"The lab did confirm that the paint from the defendant's vehicle or the paint from a vehicle exactly like that is the vehicle impacted with the victim's bicycle which gave us enough evidence to move forward with the case, " he said.

Stenzel is accused of hitting Kevin Royston as Royston rode his bicycle on a country road in Ontario County.

Royston's left leg was amputated because of the crash.

In a phone interview, Royston said he didn't know about the tampering allegation until he was told by the district attorney's office today.

"It's kind of disgusting that someone would do that," Royston said.

District Attorney Michael Tantillo said the car Stenzel was driving was a red 1967 Corvette Stingray. Tantillo said it's probably a $100,000 car.

Royston says he goes to physical therapy twice a week and fitness training three times a week. He says he can wear a prosthetic leg for two hour stints three times a week. However, the prosthetic cut a hole in his leg which Royston says will require another surgery.

We talked about his thoughts that the man accused of hitting him and driving off was in court.

"It's a start. After five months it feels good that it's going somewhere," he said. "It's a long road and a long way to go before I get back to doing what I like to do. It feels like I'm the one in prison right now."

There are connections between these two men. Royston and Stenzel's children go to school together. Their wives both work at Thompson Hospital.

"It's a small town," Royston told me.

Stenzel pled not guilty to both charges. He immediately posted $5,000 bail. He's back in court December 12th for a conference with attorneys and the judge.

Judge Fred Reed suspended Stenzel's license but said Stenzel might get permission to drive the farm equipment on his farm.