Arrest made in Levittown hit-and-run


By Michael Ganci

Charges have been filed against the Syosset man who allegedly struck a 13-year-old girl with Down syndrome from Levittown with his minivan and fled the scene on June 15.

Brianna Soplin was crossing from the south to the north side of Hempstead Turnpike at the Gardiners Avenue intersection at 12:02 a.m. when the vehicle, which was headed east, hit her. She was taken to Nassau University Medical Center with and was pronounced dead by doctors at 4:30 a.m.

The driver failed to stop, police said, and the vehicle, described as a 2011 to 2013 blue Chrysler Town & Country minivan, was last seen heading north on the Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway. Michael Elardo, 48, of Syosset, surrendered to detectives on June 16.

Elardo, a former New York City cop, was charged with leaving the scene of an incident and was arraigned on Tuesday at First District Court in Hempstead.

Newsday reported that Jennifer Curuchaga, Brianna’s mother, went to check on her in bed and found that she was missing. Curuchaga added that Brianna might have been headed to her grandfather’s home in Hicksville.

Detective Vincent Garcia told The Herald that Elardo has never been charged with a crime before this incident, and it’s unknown whether alcohol or drugs were a factor. The Nassau County District Attorney’s office declined to comment on whether or not additional charges will be filed.