Former DA investigator sentenced to prison time for hit-and-run that killed Seth Collier

Peter Rauch (center) in Onondaga County Court for his sentencing on Friday, November 17, 2017/ Photojournalist Andy Wolf

The former District Attorney's Office investigator accused in the hit-and-run that killed 18-year-old Seth Collier this spring has learned his fate.

Peter Rauch was sentenced to 2 to 6 years in prison for causing the death of Seth Collier, the maximum allowed by the terms of Rauch's guilty plea.

Rauch, 38, admitted to two counts — second-degree vehicular manslaughter and leaving the scene of a fatal accident without reporting it — when he entered a guilty plea in September. By agreeing to the plea deal, Rauch also admitted to being drunk; prosecutors said Rauch had 16 drinks on the night he struck Collier and his blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit.

Collier's mother Lisa Purvis held an urn containing her son's remains during the proceeding. While giving a statement to the court, Purvis said she was living "every parents nightmare"and lamented that she would never see her son grow up.

District Attorney Greg Oakes argued to the court that even the maximum sentenced allowed — 2 to 6 years — was "insufficient" because Rauch would someday be free again, while Collier's family would never have him back.

In his own brief statement to the court, Ruach said, "I will live with Seth's death on my conscience every day." His attorney Emil Rossi argued for leniency from Judge Stephen Dougherty, saying Rauch was a kind man who had accepted responsibility for his actions.

Judge Dougherty ultimately decided to give Rauch the maximum sentence available, saying even with that sentence Rauch would someday be free to move on with his life while the family of Seth Collier would not.

Rauch is a former investigator for the Onondaga County District Attorney's Office; he was fired just hours after the deadly accident. Due to Rauch's connection to the Onondaga County District Attorney's Office, the Oswego County District Attorney's Office has been handling the case.

The original criminal complaint against Rauch says Collier was struck while walking in the roadway on the 1400 block of N. Salina Street and knocked unconscious early Tuesday morning. Collier was taken to Upstate Hospital for treatment of what the court document describes as "life threatening injuries consisting of cranial hemorrhaging and a puncture wound to his right hamstring."

Collier was taken off life support and passed away just days later.

Police say Rauch left the scene of the crash and parked the car he was driving in the parking lot of the Pastime Athletic Club on Pastime Drive. Court documents say Rauch then fled on foot.

A witness who was riding in the front seat of the car identified Rauch as the suspect, according to the court document. The document says the car Rauch was driving is registered to the District Attorney's Office "and said vehicle is assigned solely to the defendant." Rauch's identification card and cell phone were allegedly found in the abandoned vehicle.

SEE ALSO | Family of Seth Collier intends to sue former DA investigator for deadly hit-and-run

Collier's parents have filed paperwork to pursue a wrongful death civil suit against Rauch for the death of their son. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and legal costs.

Onondaga County agreed to pay the family $150,000 in a settlement earlier this month.

Ted Ackerman, a now-former Syracuse firefighter, is also facing a charge related to the deadly hit-and-run. Ackerman was fired from the Syracuse Fire Department in April after being charged for tampering with evidence in connection. Ackerman has pleaded not guilty to that charge.

The felony complaint against Ackerman alleges he unplugged a video recording device at the club, where the car that struck Collier was parked, after the accident.

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