EXCLUSIVE: Irondequoit Police confiscate vehicle, seek lab tests to tie it to hit and run

Irondequoit police have confiscated a commercial truck similar to the one in this photo. Tests at the Monroe County Crime Lab may connect it to a fatal hit and run last month.

Irondequoit, N.Y. (WHAM) - Irondequoit Police have confiscated a commercial truck and are awaiting lab tests to determine whether it is the vehicle used in last month's fatal hit and run.

"We believe we have some solid information," said Chief Richard Tantalo.

87-year-old Joan Dierna was struck and killed last month while getting her mail. Police now believe they know enough about how the incident occurred to recreate what happened.

On December 4, they shut down a section of Bay View Road. Technicians recreated the impact at different speeds using a cherry picker to record images from the air.

"We have no determination what that speed was. They covered every possibility of how that vehicle may have operated on that day," said Chief Tantalo.

Mrs. Dierna was struck 30 days ago while getting her mail. There were no witnesses, yet security cameras on nearby homes captured a photo of a commercial truck in the area near the time of the incident.

The white truck is distinctive for its age and rust markings. Police confirmed they have confiscated a similar vehicle.

"It certainly fits the description of the vehicle that we were provided with and what we have on video, so we have conducted a forensic analysis of it," said Chief Tantalo.

Chief Tantalo added that technicians have taken evidence, including scrapings and possible DNA from the exterior of the vehicle. Tests at the Monroe County Crime Lab will determine whether there's a match to evidence collected from the victim and from other debris taken from the scene.

"We may have picked up pieces that could be viewed as evidence, but also may not be affiliated with the vehicle, so we're waiting for those forensic tests to come back," said Chief Tantalo.

For generations, the Dierna family has operated a funeral home in Irondequoit. Joan offered kindness, sympathy and warmth to people at a difficult time. Her death and the circumstances surrounding it have been mourned by the community.

"We want to see this solved. We want to be there for them, just as they have been there for so many families in our area," said Irondequoit Town Supervisor Dave Seeley.

Police will not say how they acquired the truck. While they know the identity of the driver, they have not spoken to that individual. They plan to do that if lab results indicate they have the correct vehicle. The tests could take weeks.

Asked if the driver is a suspect, Chief Tantalo replied, "At this particular point, we could label it as a person of interest."

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