Penfield man charged in deadly hit-and-run crash

Investigators said Matthew Ward, 27, reached down for his cell phone before the collision that killed Oksana Zakharchyshyn

Will Cleveland and Sean Lahman Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Oksana Zakharchyshyn (pictured with her husband, Ihor) was struck and killed by a motorist June 20 in Webster. A Penfield man now has been charged in connection with the hit-and-run.

A 27-year-old Penfield man is charged in connection with the June 20 hit-and-run that killed a mother and injured her two daughters and grandson, authorities announced Tuesday.

Maxwell Ward is charged with criminally negligent homicide, two counts of leaving the scene of an accident, each felonies, two counts of leaving the scene of a personal injury accident, each misdemeanors, and various traffic violations after he allegedly left the Empire Boulevard scene where Oksana Zakharchyshyn, 41, was struck and killed.

Ward allegedly left the scene and tried to conceal his vehicle, a 2010 Toyota RAV4. He turned himself in to police the night of the crash. He was arraigned Tuesday and remanded to the Monroe County Jail on $25,000 cash bail or $100,000 bond.

Multiple witnesses identified Ward as the driver, according to the felony complaint. He also admitted to two witnesses, both of whom were interviewed by police, that he was the driver, paperwork alleges.

Ward allegedly went to a smoke shop before the crash and purchased cigars, documents show. He allegedly bent over to pick up his cell phone just before the collision.

"The defendant applied his brakes for a short period of time after the collision, but then sped away from the scene and drove to his father's home, where he concealed the vehicle with its front end pulled into the garage," paperwork stated.

The crash, which occurred shortly before 9 p.m. June 20. Zakharchyshyn was a Webster resident who had moved to Monroe County from Ukraine just six months earlier.

Her two daughters and grandson were also injured in the crash, which occurred as the family walked to get frozen custard at a nearby shop.

The four family members were walking along Empire Boulevard, near the AMC movie theater, when they were struck by a southbound SUV and thrown into a ditch alongside the road. The crash occurred just after 8:50 p.m.

Oksana died at the scene. Her daughters Mariana, 22, and Oleksandra (called Oleysa by her family), 15, and grandson Maksym Tsybrii, 3, who was in a stroller, were all injured and taken to Strong Memorial Hospital for treatment.

Mariana and her son were discharged the following day. Oleksandra, who suffered serious injuries to her leg, neck and spine, remained hospitalized. She remains at Strong in satisfactory condition.

“The person that hit these people slowed down briefly (after the crash) and then sped up," said Nate Rowan, an East Rochester resident who called 911 and helped locate the injured pedestrians in a ditch.

That stretch of Empire Boulevard curves around several businesses where Empire splits off Ridge Road and merges with Gravel Road. There is no sidewalk in the 45 mph zone and only about 2 feet of shoulder.