Judge Orders Alleged Hit and Run Driver to Stay Away From the Wheel; Man Thought Ice or Light Hit Car

Dimitrios Zaralidis, at left. in Haverhill District Court with his lawyer, Gerard LaFlamme. (WHAV News photograph.)

A plea of not guilty was entered Thursday on behalf of a 76-year-old Haverhill man charged in connection with the hit and run death more than two years of a man walking across a downtown crosswalk.

During a short arraignment in Haverhill District Court, First Justice Cesar A. Archilla ordered Dimitrios Zaralidis, 46 Pinedale Ave., Haverhill, not to drive any vehicles and to return to court June 28. Zaralidis is charged with motor vehicle homicide by negligent operation, leaving the scene of an accident and a crosswalk violation. The accident resulted in the death of 59-year-old Charles O. “Chucky” Burrill Jr. around 5 a.m., Jan. 25, 2019 when he was struck while on a Main Street crosswalk near White’s Corner.

Haverhill Police reports, available publicly for the first time, show Zaralidis was aware something hit his windshield, but thought it was ice or maybe a falling traffic light.

Burrill’s family sat quietly in the courtroom

Assistant District Attorney John DePaulo asked for the “stern do not drive order” even though the Registry of Motor Vehicles has already taken away Zaralidis’ license. DePaulo told Judge Archilla the delay in preparing this case is mostly due to a “lengthy investigation” and partly because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He added he will work with defense attorney Gerard LaFlamme to “speed along” the case in light of the long passage of time and its effect on the family.

A Haverhill Police investigation determined that Zaralidis was driving a 2003 gray Chrysler PT Cruiser, owned by a Kingsbury Avenue woman, when he struck Burrill. A witness, who was walking in the opposite direction on the same crosswalk, told Sgt. Kevin F. Lynch he heard “a loud thump” and saw the PT Cruiser continue driving north on Main Street. Public and private video cameras also recorded the accident.

Another witness reported shortly after noon the same day that he followed the PT Cruiser, observing “damage to the front end and the windshield.”

An investigation by police Detective Sean M. Scharneck shows police looked up all gray PT Cruisers registered in Haverhill and in surrounding towns. Investigators interviewed one woman who drove such a vehicle and was on the road about the same time, but found no damage to her car. Scharneck later found the same make and model, but with front end damage, at a Kingsbury Avenue home. Zaralidis, who was at the home, acknowledged the damage to the car, but “thought it was nothing.”

In another police report prepared last November, Lynch quotes State Police as concluding “Mr. Zaralidis was not speeding and slowing down when he struck Burrill, however there was adequate lighting and he should have been able to see Burrill and avoid striking him.”

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