Far Rockaway man arrested in hit-and-run that injured West Hempstead's Rabbi Kelemer


Police on Friday arrested a Far Rockaway man they believe is the hit-and-run driver who severely injured Rav Yehuda Kelemer last December as he crossed Hempstead Avenue to enter the Young Israel of West Hempstead, where he is the spiritual leader.

Nassau Police said in a statement that the 46-year-old suspect was apprehended in West Hempstead. He was charged with leaving the scene of an accident and tampering with physical evidence. He pleaded not guilty in the First District Court in Hempstead on Saturday and was being held on $20,100 bond or $10,100 cash bail, according to reports.

The 71-year-old rabbi suffered a severe head injury and was sidelined for several months but recently returned to work. 

A police spokeswoman on Saturday said the arrest was the result of a 10-month investigation but declined to provide details, Newsday reported.

At the time of the incident, police said that Rabbi Kelemer was struck by a white Dodge Ram pickup truck about 7:30 pm as he walked across the street midblock, not in a crosswalk. He was thrown about 35 feet and driver left the scene, police said.

Lt. Richard Lebron at the time discounted the notion that the driver might not have known that he hit someone, saying that Rabbi Kelemer was hit hard. He said that the vehicle likely sustained damage to the driver side front, possibly to its fender, headlight and directional.

“After the rabbi was struck, the vehicle sped off, heading southbound,” he said.

Police said there were no witnesses to the accident, but that they were examining surveilance videos.

Print edition headline: Far Rocker seized in W. Hemp hit-run