DA Upgrades Charge in Hit-and-Run of Elderly New Rochelle Woman; Witnesses Pursued, Cornered Fleeing Suspect with their Cars, Held Her Until Police Arrived

Written By: Robert Cox

NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Gillian Getlan, 25, of New Rochelle, was arraigned this morning before Judge Matthew Costa in New Rochelle City Court on one criminal count of Leaving the Scene of an Incident, Resulting in Serious Physical Injury, Without Reporting, an E Felony. Getlan is facing 1 1/3 to 3 years in prison if convicted on the count.

Perhaps the most amazing information coming out of the felony complaint is a witness statement that she and other drivers who saw Getlan drive into the victim, Geraldine Sinceno, acted to pursue Getlan in their vehicles, boxed her in with their cars on Lincoln Avenue and held Getlan until police arrived.

Getlan struck and seriously injured Sinceno, a 72-year-old registered nurse.

Westchester County District Attorney Mimi Rocah issued a statement explaining how and why the charges were upgraded.

On October 19, 2021, at approximately 5:37 p.m., Getlan was driving her car near North Avenue and 5th Avenue in New Rochelle when she hit a pedestrian with her vehicle and fled the scene. The victim was transported to the hospital, where she underwent surgery after sustaining multiple fractures to the leg.

Getlan was initially charged with Leaving the Scene of an Incident Without Reporting, and issued a Desk Appearance Ticket, as is required under the New York State Criminal Procedure Law. After receiving medical records, the charge was elevated because of the extent of the injuries the victim sustained.

Getlan is scheduled to appear again in New Rochelle City Court on December 23, 2021.

Geraldine Sinceno, 72, also of New Rochelle, suffered multiple injuries, including her left leg, after she was sent flying into the air before landing on the pavement. Sinceno was transported from the scene to the Trauma Unit at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx, where she underwent surgery. She has since been transferred to United Hebrew of New Rochelle, where she remains today. According to Clarissa Sinceno, her daughter, Geraldine Sinceno, has a metal rod, plates, and a screw in her leg and is unable to walk.

Sinceno has been a Registered Nurse for 45 years, most recently working in hospice care for the Visiting Nurse of New York.

Dozens of friends and family of Geraldine Sinceno crowded the courtroom from 9:30 a.m. until noon, after an unusual “third call” of the case. By the end of a long day, some of those gathered were angry. Court officers escorted Getlan out of the building as one woman shouted at her in a hostile manner.

Dressed head-to-too in black, Getlan was first called before Judge Costa at about 9:45 p.m. She pleaded “not guilty”.

Judge Costa said the “UTT Files” (two traffic tickets) would be withdrawn, superseded by the Felony complaint, but then Costa announced he was unable to proceed on the Felony count until Getlan was fingerprinted “downstairs” at New Rochelle Police Department headquarters.

It was difficult for this reporter to hear what the ADA was saying to Judge Costa as the ADA spoke softly, was facing away from the gallery, and was wearing a mask, but there was some largely inaudible discussion about two traffic tickets, one dated 10/19/21 and another dated 11/19/21.

Judge Costa gave Getlan’s attorney a second call. Getlan, accompanied by her lawyer, went downstairs to be fingerprinted but returned soon after saying the officer who did the fingerprinting would not be in until between 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Getlan was told to remain until she was fingerprinted, and the second call was scheduled for 11:30 am. Getlan’s lawyer told Judge Costa he had another appearance in Mamaroneck. There was further discussion about remanding Getlan to custody. Despite this, Getlan’s lawyer left the building and Getlan and her parents spoke outside the courtroom about going to breakfast, left the courthouse and did not return until after 11:30 a.m.

After Getlan had been fingerprinted, she was called before Judge Costa a second time. Costa announced he still did not have Getlan’s rap sheet, so he put her on for an unusual third call.

Twenty minutes later, Judge Costa announced he had Getlan’s rap sheet. Getlan returned for a third time, with her lawyer.

Lauren P. Raysor, Sinceno’s civil attorney, sought to see the parking tickets, but the Court Clerk’s Office said the tickets had been sealed. She was concerned about the two traffic tickets, dated exactly one month apart, because of the possibility, Getlan was involved in another incident a month after the first incident on October 19, 2021.

It remains unclear why, if Judge Costa said he could not proceed until Getlan was fingerprinted, he sealed the traffic tickets before she was fingerprinted. It is possible that the date on the second ticket was a typo or data entry error, but without seeing the tickets, it appears unlikely Raysor will relent on getting clarification from the District Attorney or the Court.

“We need full clarity on that,” she said. “We will conduct our own investigation to determine whether there was a similar incident post-accident.”

The Sinceno family has previously raised concerns that Gillian Getlan is getting special treatment because her father, Michael Getlan, the owner of the 2013 Subaru, is an executive with Amusement Consultants Ltd. and New Roc Entertainment LLC.

Talk of the Sound has asked the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office to clarify the matter of the two traffic tickets.

Traffic tickets aside, Raysor sees progress.

“We’re pleased that (the charge) was upgraded to a felony. We believe that’s the appropriate charge.”

Raysor said she wanted to obtain Getlan’s rap sheet.

“We’re going to try to get that too. I’m hoping through the FOIA request, we will be able to see what her criminal record if she has a criminal background. And, you know, from there, we’ll see whether she’s done this before.”

“We’re not gonna stop until Geraldine gets justice and feels comfortable that this case was investigated on an independent level and that she gets the full story of what actually happened on that day. There’s questions as to whether this woman was inebriated,

whether she was on drugs. Those are all the questions that we have, and we hope over the next month or two, we’ll be able to get that from the District Attorney.

Raysor said to her knowledge, police did not give Getlan a breathalyzer test or otherwise attempted to assess her use of drugs or alcohol, which raised concerns.

“We believe that a police officer may have observed or may have made a statement that (Getlan) might have been ‘on something’ and we want to have the District Attorney pursue that observation.”

Clarissa Sinceno became emotional talking about her mother’s condition after Getlan was released on her recognizance.

“This is life altering. She cannot go back and be a nurse.”

“She was doing OT and PT, but the leg swelled, and the foot swelled and so now she is back on bedrest. They put ice on her leg every 15 to 20 minutes, on and off, to try to get the swelling down. She’s she’s not standing. She was before, but they put her back to total bed rest.”

“She had several surgeries. We don’t know when she’s going to be able to fully put weight-bearing on that particular leg. They’re projecting definitely more than 11 weeks, so we’re talking about at least another two months.”

To prepare for that day, the family is making changes to their house, including installing a ramp.

“She has been a nurse for over 45 years. She’s a hospice nurse. She works for the Visiting Nurse Service of New York. She worked throughout COVID which was so high, especially in New Rochelle, but she’s a die hard nurse, she has to care for the people.”

“She went out through the whole time, everybody else in the family was worried for her. Now, she’s in a lot of pain. She has to take Oxycodone, which we don’t want because you know what could possibly happen.”

“She just recovered from a rotator cuff (injury) from picking up a patient that was obese. She was on the mend. That day (October 19) was the first day she left the house after she’d had the rotator cuff surgery.”

Until then, the family did not let her out of the house, protecting her and caring for her.

“She was going across the street to get lemon cookies. ‘I’m going for a walk’ and I said ‘no, ma, I will get the cookies’. And she said, ‘No, no, no. I’m just going across the street” And then I get the call. I get a call from her phone but a woman who said ‘she’s been hit’. That’s all I heard. I called the number back, and then I heard my mother say, ‘Clarissa, someone hit me and kept going. I’m on the ground’.”

As tears well up in her eyes, Clarissa Sinceno said, “It’s like right around the corner of our house, so you’re going to get cookies…you know”.

Overwhelmed, she was unable to continue the interview.

According to New Rochelle police records, on October 19 at 5:19 p.m., New Rochelle Police, New Rochelle Fire Department and EMS responded to the intersection of North Avenue and Fifth Avenue on a report of a hit-and-run accident. Upon arrival, Geraldine Sinceno was observed sitting on the pavement with numerous people around her.

In the criminal complaint, NRPD Detective Francesco Provenzale stated Sinceno suffered multiple fractures of the leg requiring a level 2 trauma medical and surgery, along with protracted impairment of health.

Multiple witnesses told police that a vehicle struck Sinceno and subsequently left the scene without stopping. One witness provided police with a license plate number of the vehicle which fled the scene. A DMV check returned the vehicle to be a valid to a 2013 Subaru. Citizens on scene advised police that the vehicle was being operated by a female.

Sinceno told police she was crossing North Avenue eastbound towards Fifth Avenue when she was struck by a vehicle. She stated that she was in the crosswalk and had the cross signal when she was struck. Sinceno, who complained of left leg pain, was evaluated by EMS and transported to Jacobi Medical Center for further treatment.

One witness, Tanya Ragland told police “I saw a dark color car making a left turn towards the lady walking in the crosswalk. The car hit the lady and the lady walking went up in the air and fell. I followed the lady driving because the driver did not stop after she had hit the lady walking. Me and a few other people caught up to the car on Lincoln Avenue, where we used our cars to block her in until the police came. The police came and started to talk to the driver of the car who hit the pedestrian. The police were talking to the same lady who I saw hit the pedestrian in the crosswalk.

When police arrived on scene, they found Getlan behind the wheel of the 2013 Subaru in front of 33 Lincoln Street, 4 blocks away, about a 2-5 minute drive from the crosswalk.

Police spoke with Getlan, who stated that she was operating the vehicle and got into an accident. She stated that she was making a left turn from Fifth Avenue on to North Avenue and that the sun was in her eyes making it hard to see. She stated that as she was making the turn she felt her vehicle hit something but did not know what it was. She stated that she then continued to drive southbound on North Avenue. In the rearview mirror, she saw that she had hit a person. She stated that she got nervous and did not know where to pull over, so she continued to drive.

In the felony complaint, Getlan is quoted from a recording, apparently made on body cam video, making numerous incriminating statements to officers.

PO Gonzalez:

  • Feeling so horrible I drove so far away from the accident. I saw her on the ground in my rearview in my side was turned in.
  • All I could think about was I can’t believe I hit someone. Should I stop.
  • I swear the sun the glare I didn’t see her at all.
  • Thought I was on fifth Avenue, taking a left on North Avenue. The glare, I just went for it.”
  • I can’t believe I hit someone.
  • I hit someone.

PO Pedro

  • I hit her. Is she ok?
  • I saw that she had fallen down in my rear and I wanted to pull over and call. The intersection is tight and I didn’t know how to stop. It’s about her.
  • I thought it was a car at first. I should have done that. I didn’t see them at first. I saw them afterwards. I felt it, I saw the thing.
  • I didn’t know what to do I should’ve just pulled over.
  • I don’t want to feel sorry for myself because I hit her.
  • It all happened really fast.
  • I’ve never had anyone before. Pretty hard.

At the time, Getlan was issued a summons for VTL § 600(2), returnable on November 18.

Records from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, show that Sunset was at 6:09 p.m. on October 19, 2021. Data tables from the Astronomical Applications Department of the U.S. Naval Observatory show that at 5:19 p.m. on October 19, in the New York City area, the sun was at an elevation of 24.88 degrees and an azimuth of 230.01 degrees. Geraldine Sinceno, who is less than 6 feet tall, was at street level.

Astronomical data, trigonometry, and buildings across the street raise questions whether the sun could be in the eyes of a driver, approaching the intersection driving westbound from Fifth Avenue turning left onto North Avenue southbound on October 19, 2021, at 5:19 p.m.

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