EAST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A Facebook live video showed Johnassis Melendez, 23, got one last hug before he turned himself over to East Haven police. In another video, Melendez admits to being behind the wheel in the crash that killed Gaitana Girgenti, 27.
Melendez says, “I’m about to go turn myself in.”
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He says 24 hours before the fatal crash he was strapped for cash and was staying in a Branford Motel with a 17-year-old girl and Girgenti. He admits to buying weed and taking money from a taco truck.
“Took six dollars out of her taco truck, broke up a couple of more windows,” said Melendez.
Court documents state they were heading to visit friends in New Haven. The teenage girl and witnesses nearby told police he was speeding along Frontage road. He says he was going 45mph when a car cut him off. He says he turned right and lost control.
Melendez says, “I press my E-brake so hard six seconds. Six seconds. I felt the impact.”
He says he helped the teenager out and then got Girgenti. He calls her Tania.
“I was holding her head and I asked her Tania, Tania are you ok? She looked at me and she said “hmm hmm”. She blinked at me six times,” said Melendez.
He says he was helping Tania.
I was scared. I didn’t know what to do,” said Melendez. “I screamed to the cop, ‘help’. The cop looked at me took two steps to the right put his right hand up and stopped the traffic. There was no traffic going on.”
He says the teen told him to go and he did.
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“I looked at her. I looked at Tania. I looked at the cop and I took 5 steps back. There was woods behind me. I just kept going. kept going. kept going,” says Melendez.
After two days evading police, he turned himself in. According to court documents, Melendez had a suspended license, and should not have been behind the wheel at all.
In his confession, Melendez revealed that he had cases pending in the Connecticut judicial system, but had skipped his court appearances. Court documents show that he is a convicted felon and now he’s behind held on a $100,000 bond.
East Haven police spokesperson Lieutenant Joseph M. Murgo said they are aware of the videos and it is part of the investigation. He sent an email stating,
A plain clothes Lieutenant was the first officer to arrive on scene. The Lieutenant identified that there were several victims that required medical attention. Although Melendez believes that the officer left to direct traffic, the officer actually left to retrieve a medical bag. Prior to the officer returning with the medical bag, the East Haven Fire Department arrived on scene and provided medical attention. Johnassis Melendez was unable to observe this because he fled the scene of the accident in violation of the law instead of remaining on scene to see the other two passengers treated.”