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Driver in crash that killed father granted probation

Michael M. Savage, the driver in a 2011 fatal accident on Ponus Ridge that claimed the life of his father, pleaded guilty Thursday to a misdemeanor charge of negligent homicide with a motor vehicle.

Savage, of 119 Clearview Lane, New Canaan, was arrested Dec. 15, 2013, on a charge of misconduct with a motor vehicle, but the Class D felony charge was dropped Thursday and reduced to a misdemeanor.

Norwalk Superior Court Judge William Wenzel suspended the execution of a six-month sentence that comes with the misdemeanor charge and placed Savage on probation for two years.

Savage crashed his 2009 Maserati Quattroporte at Ponus Ridge and Lakewind Road at about 10:30 p.m., Dec. 22, 2011. His father, James Jackson Savage, 74, of Seattle, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Witnesses saw Savage leaving the crash scene on foot, and he was found the next morning at Stamford Hospital, with a laceration to one of his hands, police said.

A nearly two-year investigation showed that Savage called 9-1-1 before he fled the scene saying there had been accident with injuries, but the call went to Stamford first and cellphone reception in the area was poor.

The investigation took two years, in part, because police had to communicate with Maserati, an Italian car manufacturer, New Canaan Police Sgt. Carol Ogrinc said in December. Quattroporte is a high-speed luxury car.

Police said Savage was heading southbound on Ponus Ridge when his car veered into the northbound lane and onto the lawn of 1801 Ponus Ridge. On the property, the car hit a mailbox and a tree before it came to rest on top of a stonewall. Police said the car was totaled and unrecognizable.

An analysis of the crash damage to the passenger side of the vehicle showed that the car was traveling between 57 and 67 mph when it hit the tree, according to court documents. Such speed range, however, may be "significantly less than the speed at which the vehicle was travelling on the roadway," where the speed limit is 30 mph, according to the affidavit.

Under state law, the misdemeanor charge involves ordinary negligence, "which occurs when someone deviates from the standard of care or conduct a person should reasonably follow" while driving. The charge is "easier to prove than misconduct with a motor vehicle, which involves a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that should be followed," according to state law.

Savage's attorney, Robert S. Bello, did not return a call for comment.

noliveira@bcnnew.com, 203-330-6582, @olivnelson

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