UMass Dartmouth student charged in fatal hit and run in Middleboro

A University of Massachusetts Dartmouth student is facing a criminal charge in connection with a hit-and-run crash that killed a 58-year-old father of two last month in Middleborough, authorities said.

Eric Megna, 18, of Middleborough, is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday in Wareham District Court on a charge of leaving the scene of a motor vehicle crash causing death, Plymouth District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz’s office said in a statement.

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Megna was driving a black Jeep on Wood Street on Oct. 11 when he allegedly struck Michael Dutra, who was riding a bicycle, authorities said.

“Rather than stop and assist the dying man, Megna fled to New Hampshire, where his family owns a vacation home,” and he told authorities there several days later that he struck a deer, Cruz’s office said in a statement.

Megna’s lawyer, David P. Sorrenti, said in an e-mail that he believes his client will be exonerated.

He said the trip to the vacation home was pre-planned and “not uncommon,” and that police seized the black Jeep, even though eye witness testimony put a white vehicle at the scene.

“There is no eye witness observation that puts a black jeep as being involved in the accident and no witness testimony that places Mr. Megna as the driver of the vehicle involved in the accident,” Sorrenti said.

Cruz’s office said that initial reports pointed to a light-colored vehicle, but paint found on Dutra’s clothing was “consistent with the black paint” on the Jeep.

Megna sent a photo of a dead deer to his mother, which she showed to investigators, according to prosecutors. However, police determined that the picture was taken from the Internet, and that there were no signs of fur or other deer remains on the Jeep, according to Cruz’s office.

, Investigators also allegedly recovered parts of Megna’s vehicle from an auto body shop that were consistent with debris found at the scene on Wood Street, and the vehicle damage suggested a person, rather than a deer, had been struck, authorities said.