Taunton driver is charged in teenager’s hit-run death
The family of a hit-and-run victim expressed sympathy yesterday for the man who prosecutors say killed the teenager in Taunton Thursday and fled in a panic.
Paul Baran, 55, of Taunton was arrested early yesterday after questioning at the Taunton Police Department Saturday evening, according to Bristol District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter’s office. Baran was charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
“We’re happy he’s caught, but in the next breath, we were hoping [the suspect] was a worse person, so we could channel our anger,’’ said Cheryl Costa, 53, an aunt of Nicholas Silva-Thomas, 17, who also lived in Taunton and was skateboarding with friends when he was struck by Baran’s vehicle on Bay Street.
Baran “seems like just as much a victim, the poor thing,’’ Costa said by phone, hours after she was briefed by authorities about the arrest. “He didn’t even see him.’’
Silva-Thomas was wearing all black clothes the night Baran allegedly slammed into him, Costa said, causing a severe head injury. Authorities have said the teen was not wearing a helmet.
Police told Silva-Thomas’s family about the arrest yesterday and said Baran was genuinely remorseful and that he had a clean record, Costa said.
Baran saw the story of the teenager’s death on the 5 o’clock news the next day.
“He watched it, and he was sick over it. ‘What do I do? What do I do?’ ’’ Costa said. “. . . He totally panicked. He said he hadn’t slept in three days.’’
Costa said police told her it was an anonymous tip that gave them the information that led to Baran’s arrest. Baran agreed to come in for questioning after investigators arrived at his home on Fourth Avenue on Saturday, prosecutors said.
He will be arraigned this morning at Taunton District Court.
A preliminary investigation indicates that Silva-Thomas was riding his skateboard on Bay Street around 9:40 p.m. Thursday when he was struck near the entrance to Watson Pond, prosecutors said. Baran allegedly fled the scene, heading northbound on Bay Street.
Witnesses have said the driver apparently turned the vehicle’s lights off as it drove away.
Silva-Thomas later died in Morton Hospital in Taunton.
Taunton police and a woman who identified herself as a relative of Baran declined to comment.
Silva-Thomas’s mother was not available for comment, but Costa said she acknowledges the death was a tragic accident and she seemed to be doing better yesterday.
After Silva-Thomas was struck, dozens of friends and his girlfriend went to the hospital. He was a member of the wrestling team and worked part time at a local Market Basket. He would have been a senior at Taunton High School this year.
Services are at 4 p.m. tomorrow at Crapo-Hathaway Funeral Home in Taunton, and a graveside funeral will be held at 9 a.m. Wednesday at Mayflower Hill Cemetery in Taunton.
Globe correspondent Jeff Fish contributed reporting. Ben Wolford can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.