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No charges expected in Boeheim accident; College GameDay at the Dome canceled

Syracuse Police Chief Kenton Buckner (at podium), Syracuse Police Lt. David Brown (left), and Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick (right) on Thursday discussed the deadly Wednesday night accident on Interstate 690 in Syracuse in which Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim’s GMC Acadia hit and killed 51-year-old Jorge Jimenez of Syracuse. Buckner, Fitzpatrick, and Brown addressed local reporters in a Thursday afternoon session at the Public Safety Building. (Eric Reinhardt / BJNN)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse police don’t expect to lodge criminal charges in connection with Wednesday night’s fatal accident on Interstate-690 East in which Syracuse men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim hit a man on the side of the highway.

Local authorities late Thursday afternoon provided an update on the deadly car crash as Syracuse University also learned that ESPN has decided to scrap its scheduled College GameDay broadcast at the Carrier Dome on Saturday morning in advance of the Syracuse-Duke basketball game that evening.

“At this time, we have no reason to believe that criminal charges … will be coming for anyone,” Syracuse Police Chief Kenton Buckner said in the news conference, noting the final decision rests with Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick.

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Syracuse police say a GMC Acadia driven by Boeheim hit and killed Jorge Jimenez, 51, of Syracuse in the accident late Wednesday night. Jimenez was a passenger in a Dodge Charger that hit a guard rail on 690 East, ending up in the middle of the highway. Police say Jimenez had left the Charger and was standing on the side of the highway as Boeheim swerved to miss the wreckage.

Buckner, Fitzpatrick, Syracuse Police Lt. David Brown addressed local reporters in a Thursday afternoon session at the Public Safety Building.

At the same time, Syracuse University Director of Athletics John Wildhack released a statement in reaction to ESPN’s decision to originate its College GameDay broadcast from its main campus in Bristol, Connecticut instead of at the Carrier Dome as planned.

“We respect ESPN’s decision to originate College GameDay from Bristol this weekend and appreciate their concern for our community during this difficult time,” Wildhack said.

About an hour earlier, Wildhack released a separate statement indicating that Boeheim “met briefly with his team [Thursday] but did not attend or participate in practice.”

No word yet on whether Boeheim will coach his Syracuse basketball team on Saturday.

Accident details

In answering reporters’ questions, Buckner said Boeheim had stopped and attempted to help at the accident scene.

“I believe, at some point, that he even attempted to stop other cars that were coming over that crest from hitting the vehicle that was still there in the roadway,” said Buckner.

Lt. Brown indicated that Boeheim had told police that his “primary concern” was preventing another vehicle from crashing into the one that had ended up in the middle of 690 so Boeheim ran back and attempted to flag down vehicles with his cell-phone light.

“That was corroborated by the first responding officer who was actually flagged down by Mr. Boeheim with his cell-phone light,” said Brown.

“That’s a very, very dark stretch of road. There are no street lights in that particular area of 690,” Fitzpatrick later noted as he spoke to reporters.

Police say Boeheim was traveling alone at the time, and Buckner called the accident a “tragedy.”

“Based upon what we know today, we have a tragic accident that resulted in a gentleman’s death that happens to involve a high-profile individual,” Buckner stated.

Police on Thursday interviewed Boeheim along with two of the three occupants of the Charger.

“I would like to reinforce that we have no reason to believe that either of the drivers of the vehicles was impaired at the time of the incident,” said Buckner.

Field sobriety and alco-sensor tests for both drivers were “negative for any signs of impairment,” the police said in an earlier statement.

Citing the investigation data, Brown said it appears that the Dodge Charger’s four passengers were trying to cross the highway from their car to get to safety.

“They were attempting to cross the guardrail to get into the center median for their own protection. It appears that Mr. Jimenez would’ve been approximately in the area of the northern [part] of the roadway,” said Brown.

Jimenez was taken to Upstate University Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

Contact Reinhardt at ereinhardt@cnybj.com

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