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Suspect in Fatal Westport Hit-and-Run Faces Judge

Gerardo Lugo, 54, of Fall River was ordered held pending a dangerousness hearing in connection with the May 7 crash

The Massachusetts man suspected in a hit-and-run crash in Westport faced a judge on Thursday.

Gerardo Lugo, 54, of Fall River, was ordered held pending a dangerous hearing during his arraignment in Fall River District Court. He was charged with leaving the scene-death resulting, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, driving with a suspended license, and trafficking heroin.

Lugo turned himself into police Wednesday afternoon. He was accompanied by two family members when he arrived at the police department, where he was immediately arrested.

Police believe Lugo was driving more than 40 mph when he stuck 33-year-old Stephanie Tripp on May 7 on Old Bedford Road in Westport. Investigators said it appears Lugo tried to stop but couldn't.

Tripp was taken to Rhode Island Hospital in critical condition and died from her injuries May 16.

"I just can't believe somebody would run somebody down and leave them on the side of the road and wait three weeks," said Tripp's aunt Laurie Sanford. "He was nervous and panicked. That would be understandable, but to wait three weeks, he obviously doesn't have the conscious. We want justice for Stephanie."

The Bristol County District Attorney's Office said during an execution of a search warrant at Lugo's apartment last week, investigators found the keys to the BMW he was allegedly driving and a plastic bag containing about 200 grams of suspected heroin. The BMW also had front end damage and hair stuck to the windshield.

"Items in the engine block of that vehicle were missing and pieces found at the scene from the engine block of that vehicle are believed to match," said a prosecutor.

According to state police, Lugo's family urged him to turn himself in and even contacted investigators about the crash.

Authorities said he was driving his brother's car and apparently told him he left the scene because he didn't have a license to drive.

"I can tell you that Mr. Lugo is extremely upset," said Lugo's attorney. His family is distraught. It's a sad day."

Lugo is due back in court June 4 for the dangerousness hearing.

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