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Wayne Post
  • Driver who left Rushville bicyclist for dead will go to prison

  • In June 2012, cyclist Kevin Royston of Rushville lost his leg when he was hit by a car driving past him on Town Line Road near Rushville. Not until December was Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo able to charge the man who was behind the wheel at that time, John Stenzel of Yates County.

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  • In June 2012, cyclist Kevin Royston of Rushville lost his leg when he was hit by a car driving past him on Town Line Road near Rushville. Not until December was Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo able to charge the man who was behind the wheel at that time, John Stenzel of Yates County.
    In Ontario County Court April 17, before Judge Frederick G. Reed, Stenzel pled guilty to the original and full felony charges of leaving the scene of an accident where there was serious physical injury, and tampering with physical evidence. He will be sentenced to 1 to 3 years in state prison.
    Tantillo, who prosecuted the case himself, said not only did Stenzel leave Royston, a 43-year old father, lying in a ditch, Stenzel stuffed deer hair or tissue into the damaged headlight of his car to make it seem the damage was caused by hitting a deer. Royston said he didn't know about the tampering allegation until he was told by the district attorney's office. "It's kind of disgusting that someone would do that," said Royston.
    "His actions were cowardly and appalling," added Tantillo. "I accept that it was accidental, but once he realized what had happened, he was morally and legally responsible to help."
    Despite Stenzel's attempt to escape responsibility, Tantillo said there was evidence he left at the scene as well. "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."
    Speaking with television reporters following the conviction, defense attorney Tom Splain said of his client, "He has remorse for what happened. I can't really give a reasonable explanation why he didn't come forward," says Splain. "His position was he didn't think he struck a person. He thought he struck an animal."
    "He accelerated. He gunned it," Royston recalls. "Look at his past driving history and you'll know why he left me lying there. He's a coward." Stenzel has two prior DWI convictions in Yates County.
    "I'm very skeptical of his claim. This was a serious collision with serious damage to a Corvette he loved," said Tantillo, who says he knows Stenzel was drinking at a bar in Geneva the day of the crash. Tantillo says the car was a red 1967 Corvette Stingray, and probably worth $100,000.
    A patron of the bar photographed Stenzel's corvette there that day, and then recognized him after his arrest six months later. That patron called police, but there were no credit card records or other evidence to prove whether Stenzel had consumed alcohol. Speaking at the time, Tantillo said, "I believe there's a reasonable assumption that he was under the influence of alcohol. Can I prove it? No."
    Page 2 of 2 - Royston now wears a prosthetic leg, and said he goes to physical therapy and fitness training, but has not been able to take up his former physical activities. "I'm making progress, I'm working hard on it," he said adding "it's just going to take a long time."
    Speaking to television reporters after Stenzel's conviction, "Whatever jail time he gets out of it, is not enough," says Royston. "I got this for the rest of my life."
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