Dazed and fumbling after drinking at a party all night, Maxwell Materazzi-Hatala made a dumb choice to drive home.
The Scranton, Pa.-area man rammed into a trash collector and crushed the city worker’s legs. Materazzi-Hatala then lied to his insurer about the collision. It was a desperate bid to fool his insurer into paying for repairing his Toyota’s crumpled front end, and throw police off the track.
Hit-and-run drivers sometimes use insurance scams to camouflage their mistakes and avoid responsibility for the grievous injuries they cause innocent people trapped in the onrushing car’s path. The contrived insurance claims often quickly break down under methodical scrutiny by fraud investigators.
Materazzi-Hatala bore down on trash collector Steven Pierson around 6 a.m. The truck’s driver saw the onrushing headlights. He warned Pierson and another worker at rear of the truck. Too late. Materazzi-Hatala never braked. He crashed into Pierson, crushing his legs against the truck.
Materazzi-Hatala bolted the scene without stopping, leaving Pierson writhing on the street in agony.
Damaged parked trailer
Desperate for a way out, he deliberately rammed the Toyota into a parked transport trailer. Materazzi-Hatala then made a false damage claim with his insurer, lying he had a regretful run-in with the trailer. He hoped to convince his insurer to pay for the repairs, and explain away the damage.
Police found parts of a headlamp that seemed merely tossed on the ground — including plastic pieces with blood on them.
Nor did the Camry’s heavy front-end damage track with Materazzi-Hatala’s version of the crash. He was handed 18 months in prison plus seven years of probation in May 2017 — for insurance fraud, causing serious bodily injury, and other crimes.
Pierson needed more than 200 stitches, a skin graft plus rods and plates. He lost 1¾ inches in height on his right leg, and requires lifts in his shoe — yet he’s finally walking again. Pierson hopes he’ll return to work.
“It is very fortunate for you that Mr. Pierson survived,” Judge Margaret Bisignani Moyle said at Materazzi-Hatala’s sentencing. “If he did not, you would be standing in a very different place.”
Driver hits pedestrian
Other hit-and-run drivers have used insurance scams to hide their roadway mistakes.
High-school student Devaughn Moore was crossing a street in Amherst, N.Y. when Kevin Ford hit him and sped away. He left Moore lying in the street with a serious head injury. Ford then set his car afire in a field, and called his insurer to falsely report that someone stole the vehicle.
The shell of a broken, gray side-view mirror was left at the hit-and-run scene. Investigators determined it came from a 2006 Chevy Impala.
A police license-plate check of cars fitting that description revealed Ford’s car was reported stolen the night of the hit-and-run. Investigators found the burned car at an insurance impound lot. Ford received up to three years in prison. Moore was hospitalized for four weeks before learning to walk again.
Rams truck carrying women
Thomas Douglass was a police officer for the City of Newburgh, N.Y. His truck hit a car carrying five women.
Douglass roared off. He left the women alone to die, for all he knew. In fact four were injured. One woman was trapped in the wreckage with a broken vertebrae, permanently injured.
Douglass told his insurer that he hit a deer. He received up to three years in prison.
These misguided drivers may hit-and-run, but they can’t run far.