After three long weeks, Aaron Hartmann returns home

06/01/2013 12:00 PM |

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO |  Aaron Hartmann, joined by his mother Linda, returned home Friday after three weeks of treatment following a hit-and-run crash.

Aaron Hartmann sat in a wheelchair in the center of his living room, idly spinning the wheels back and forth Friday afternoon. Earlier that day, doctors had removed the staples from his left leg, where a car smashed into him in Flanders three weeks ago.

With an eyepatch perched on his head, he said he sees double out of his left eye, and his right eye’s vision is “no good” anymore.

Still, Mr. Hartmann isn’t complaining.

“I’m alive,” he said.

Mr. Hartmann returned home Friday after three weeks of treatment for serious injuries he suffered in a hit-and-run crash while walking in Flanders early on May 12.

The 23-year-old Riverhead resident was walking along County Road 105 about 12:50 a.m. on Mother’s Day from a friend’s birthday party when he was struck by a vehicle, which fled the scene.

Mr. Hartmann was taken to Peconic Bay Medical Center and later to Stony Brook University Medical Center with serious injuries, including several fractures in his leg.

Two days later, Jacqueline Celentano, 21, of Calverton was arrested in connection with the hit-and-run crash.

Police said they were able to identify a red 2000 Chevy Impala sedan parked outside a Riverside home as the vehicle that struck Mr. Hartmann.

Ms. Celentano, a 2009 Riverhead High School graduate, was charged with leaving the scene of an accident with physical injuries, a felony, and is free on $30,000 bail.

Her attorney, John Russo, said at her arraignment that his client left the scene of the accident out of fear.

Mr. Hartmann says he remembers going to the party, but has no memory of what happened once he left. He can barely remember waking up in the hospital bed, fighting swelling in his brain.

He says he has a long road ahead of him. It’ll be at least another three weeks until he can put weight on his leg.

Aaron’s mother, Linda, said at first she felt bad for the alleged driver, saying the young woman must have been afraid.

But Ms. Hartmann said she cannot forgive, saying she heard from police that Ms. Celentano tried to hide the vehicle and turned herself in only after police arrived at her house to arrest her.

“I have absolutely no compassion now,” Ms. Hartmann said. “The rest of her family that have to deal with it, I can feel for them, but not what she did. That was like hitting him and leaving him like roadkill.”

psquire@timesreview.com