Schenectady man in custody after fatal hit and run

Posted at: 11/24/2012 11:15 AM
Updated at: 11/24/2012 11:31 PM
By: Dan Bazile

ALBANY - A Schenectady man is in police custody after he allegedly struck a bicyclist and led police on a pursuit that spanned five cities and two counties.

Pablo Cruz is facing charges for what police described as one of the most bizarre cases they've seen in a very long time.

Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said today, “We believe him to be highly intoxicated. He was recently paroled.”

Early Saturday morning, investigators say he decided to run from police on a routine DWI stop. It all started on Central Avenue in Colonie, where Albany County Sheriff Deputies were on the look out for drunken drivers.

Apple says of one deputy, “He noticed this headlight coming at him erratically.”

That was Cruz in a white pick up truck; clocked at around 90 miles per hour, according to Apple. Police went after him with their emergency lights on from Colonie, into the city of Albany.

Apple described the chase, “Just before the vehicle comes to a halt, it takes off again.”

The chase continued. Police say Cruz came around the bend on Manning Boulevard, and just before he hit Washington Avenue, police say he clipped 45-year old Paul Merges, who was riding his bicycle. But he didn't stop. He gunned it up Washington Avenue.

Apple continued, “The bike went flying off to the side of the road and unfortunately the bicyclist became entangled in the ladder rack on top of the pick up truck.”

That’s when Apple says the whole thing started to look like a scene out of a horror movie, and officers had no choice but to chase Cruz, who he says at times was driving at more than a hundred miles per hour.

Apple explains, “We don't want to go and engage in a high speed chase. But due to the nature of having a human being hanging from the vehicle, we felt it was necessary to pursue him.”

Police were hot on Cruz’s trail through Albany, Colonie, Niskayuna, Schenectady, and finally into Rotterdam, when Cruz’s car engine blew up at the corner of Cederlawn and Curry roads.

Police say they had to taze Cruz before putting him under arrest.

Cruz is charged with vehicular manslaughter, DWI and violating parole. He was released from State Prison earlier this month, on November 2nd.

The Albany County Sheriff's Office says Merges leaves behind several local family members.

According to his family, Merges was a 1985 graduate of Christian Brothers Academy, and he worked for state tax and finance.