Family aching for justice in fatal hit-and-run

Driver known, no arrest made two years later
Posted at 11:02 PM, Feb 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-28 06:22:21-05

Imagine losing a family member in a hit and run and two years later the person responsible remains free even though investigators tell you they have a suspect but can't make an arrest.

This is the frustration facing the family of 49-year-old Robert Colantonio, who on January 3, 2015 was left to die on I-75 near Bonita Springs.

Lesly Colantonio is Robert's widow who tells Fox 4 she has been waiting two years for justice to be served.  "The question I have is what is the legal loophole? It seems to me like there's enough evidence to go after him," Lesly Colantonio said.

Arresting the driver hasn't been easy. An investigative report reveals detectives found Naples resident Helen Intile owns the car. Intile first told detectives her car was struck near the Coastland Mall on January 03, 2015, the same date Colantonio died in Bonita Springs.

Out of a panic, Intile says she left the scene. She didn't call police or file a police report, but she did file a claim with AllState to get her car fixed immediately.

The report states Intile later admitted to troopers her grandson, Michael Steffanelli, was driving her car that night. She says Michael told her a car hit him but he asked her not to file a police report. When detectives tried getting her to provide a recorded sworn statement Intile stopped talking and said she wanted to speak with her attorney first.

Detectives reached out to Allstate and found an agent didn't ask for crash report before authorizing repairs because the grandmother was "extremely believable in her account of the damages."

In the report, the investigator says he believes, "Ms. Intile filed a false report concerning the hit-and-run crash and that this false claim caused he intentional destruction of evidence."

Even so, Allstate wouldn't release Intile's file containing her recorded statement about the hit and run near Coastland Center.  When Four in Your Corner asked about the process before a check is cut for repairs when someone files a claim and what is required of the insured this is what a spokesperson sent Four In Your Corner in an e-mail.

"Each claim is handled differently, depending on the type of claim. And, our policy is not to discuss individual claim details with third parties. Our website contains some information on the claims filing process, which may help answer some of your questions:"

"You would think you would want to cover yourself too as far as you're required by law and to not ask for anything that is very, very strange," Lesly Colantonio said.

Four In Your Corner sat down with criminal defense attorney Janese Caruthers about Allstate's actions in this case.

"They may be liable to pay the family of the deceased more money if her initial statement was released to law enforcement and that's probably why they're not cooperating," Janese Caruthers said.

Crimestoppers is asking any witnesses who may have seen the driver the night of the hit-and-run to call 1-800-780-TIPS.