Suspected driver in Boston hit-and-run that killed elderly man held on bail

BOSTON (WHDH) - A man accused of driving away after fatally hitting an elderly pedestrian in a Commonwealth Avenue crosswalk has been held on $10,000 cash bail.

Phocian Fitts, 23, of Brighton, was arraigned in Brighton Municipal Court on charges including motor vehicle homicide and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death.

Officers responding just before 1 p.m. Wednesday to a report of a pedestrian struck in the area of 1316 Commonwealth Ave. found Theodore Schwalb, 80, injured in the road.

Schwalb was rushed to St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, where he died from his injuries.

Schwalb, a former art teacher at Stoneham High School, was known to friends and family as the “Mayor of the South End.”

“Everyone who knew him remembered him as the warmest, most vivacious person in the room,” Schwalb’s nephew Alexander Star said.

Theodore Schwalb, 80

Investigators said the impact of the collision knocked Schwalb out of his shoes and threw him into the air. Witnesses said the driver of the Jeep that hit him fled the scene.

“The poor guy was in the crosswalk and someone took his life and fled,” Boston Police Commissioner William B. Evans said at the scene.

Fitts was located a short time later on Fidelis Way and was taken in for questioning. He was formally arrested late Wednesday night.

Prosecutor Emily Hamrock told the court that Fitts told police he saw the man in the crosswalk before the crash.

“He admitted to seeing the pedestrian walking in the crosswalk and honking his horn, but suggested that he couldn’t avoid the pedestrian,” Hamrock said.

Fitts also allegedly said “accidents happen” during an interview with detectives that was cut short by his attorney.

His mother told 7News that her son fled the scene because he was frightened.

Court documents show Fitts has been on probation since 2014 for assaulting a letter carrier.

Fitts will be fitted with a GPS tracking device if he is able to post bail. He is due back in court June 25.

The crash is under investigation. Anyone with information regarding the hit-and-run is asked to call Boston police detectives at 617-343-4470.

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