District attorney: Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim not expected to face legal ramifications after fatal accident

The Onondaga County district attorney told Yahoo Sports on Thursday morning that there will not be any immediate legal ramifications after Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim’s role in a tragic and fatal car accident on Wednesday night.

“Not from law enforcement, unless something extraordinary or bizarre comes to our attention that we’re not aware of,” said district attorney William J. Fitzpatrick in a telephone interview. “In terms of a strict reconstruction of the accident, it’s just a tragedy.”

Fitzpatrick said that Boeheim struck a pedestrian who’d exited a vehicle on I-690 East at 11:22 p.m. on Wednesday night. Police identified the victim as 51-year-old Jorge Jimenez. Fitzpatrick said that there was a single-car accident that resulted in the car hitting the guardrail. All four occupants exited the car, and police said the accident occurred as Boeheim was attempting to avoid hitting the car. (The cause of the initial single-car accident wasn’t known.) Fitzpatrick said one of the occupants “begins to wander into the oncoming traffic lane,” and was struck by Boeheim’s vehicle.

Fitzpatrick said that Boeheim stopped and immediately attempted to render assistance. He called Boeheim “completely cooperative” with police and noted that he took a breathalyzer that came up with no trace of alcohol and didn’t appear to be speeding.

“All indications are that it was an appropriate speed for the conditions,” Fitzpatrick said.

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Syracuse men's basketball coach Jim Boeheim during the 2018-19 season
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Syracuse men's basketball coach Jim Boeheim during the 2018-19 season
RALEIGH, NC - FEBRUARY 13:Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim during the 1st half of the NC State Wolfpack game versus the Syracuse Orange on February 13th, 2019, at PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC. (Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
RALEIGH, NC - FEBRUARY 13: Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim and Syracuse Orange guard Tyus Battle (25) during the 2nd half of the NC State Wolfpack game versus the Syracuse Orange on February 13th, 2019, at PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC. (Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SYRACUSE, NY - JANUARY 12: Head coach Jim Boeheim of the Syracuse Orange reacts to a call against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the second half at the Carrier Dome on January 12, 2019 in Syracuse, New York. Georgia Tech defeated Syracuse 73-59. (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)
SYRACUSE, NY - JANUARY 09: Head coach Jim Boeheim of the Syracuse Orange looks on against the Clemson Tigers during the second half at the Carrier Dome on January 9, 2019 in Syracuse, New York. Syracuse defeated Clemson 61-53. (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)
SYRACUSE, NY - DECEMBER 29: Syracuse Orange Head Coach Jim Boeheim claps for his players play on the court during the first half of the St. Bonaventure Bonnies versus the Syracuse Orange game on December 29, 2018, at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY.(Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
SYRACUSE, NY - DECEMBER 18: Head coach Jim Boeheim of the Syracuse Orange chuckles after a traveling call goes in his team's favor during the second half against the Buffalo Bulls at the Carrier Dome on December 18, 2018 in Syracuse, New York. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
SYRACUSE, NY - DECEMBER 01: Head coach Jim Boeheim of the Syracuse Orange reacts as Paschal Chukwu #13 comes out of the game against the Cornell Big Red during the first half at the Carrier Dome on December 1, 2018 in Syracuse, New York. Syracuse defeated Cornell 63-55. (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)
SYRACUSE, NY - DECEMBER 01: Head coach Jim Boeheim of the Syracuse Orange embrace his son, Jimmy Boeheim #3 of the Cornell Big Red following the game at the Carrier Dome on December 1, 2018 in Syracuse, New York. Syracuse defeated Cornell 63-55. (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)
SYRACUSE, NY - DECEMBER 01: Head coach Jim Boeheim of the Syracuse Orange talks with Frank Howard #23 against the Cornell Big Red during the first half at the Carrier Dome on December 1, 2018 in Syracuse, New York. (Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 28: Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim watches a Ohio State Buckeye player in a game between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Syracuse Orange on November 28, 2018 at Value City Arena in Columbus, OH. (Photo by Adam Lacy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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Fitzpatrick outlined the next steps expected to take place, including determining the cause of the original accident, status of the driver and an autopsy.

“We’ll take final statements and do an accident reconstruction and find out where as best we can the deceased was standing,” he said. “Whether or not there are any skid marks. It’ll be difficult to determine because of the condition of the road.”

While it’s very early in the process, the most likely legal outcome would be a civil lawsuit for monetary damages.

“In terms of if he’ll be sued, I can’t answer that,” Fitzpatrick said. “Whenever anyone asks me, ‘Can I sue?’ I say, ‘Stop, I don’t need to hear the rest of it.’ The answer is yes.”

There will also be a psychological impact on Boeheim for his role in the tragedy.

“Different people handle it different ways,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’ve seen it a lot in 40 years. He’s a good guy, and I’m sure it’s going to affect him.”

Boeheim, 74, has been the head coach at Syracuse for 43 years, won the 2003 national championship and led the program to five Final Fours. He’s essentially lived in or around the city since enrolling at Syracuse University in 1962 and has become the community’s most recognizable figure.

Syracuse athletic director John Wildhack released a statement on Thursday morning: “We extend our deepest condolences to all impacted by this tragic accident. Coach Boeheim is in contact with local authorities and cooperating fully. Out of respect for the grieving, there will be no further comment at this time.”

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