Cops: Passenger really driver in fatal hit & run

Posted at 1:20 PM, Dec 22, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-22 17:30:31-05

A Boca Raton man, who originally told police he was not the driver of a vehicle that struck and killed a bicyclist, now faces DUI manslaughter and several other charges in connection with the crash.

On April 6, 2014 a Ford F-150 struck and killed 66-year-old George Morreale as he rode his bike near Yamato Road and I-95 in Boca Raton.

The driver of the vehicle initially left the scene but then returned, according to police.

Bianca Fichtel originally told an officer that she was behind the wheel, according to a probable cause affidavit.

More than a year later she changed her story in a statement to the Palm Beach County State Attorney's Office.

She said that her boyfriend at the time, Paul Thomas Maida, was driving at the time of the crash. She said there were emails between the pair in which Maida admitted he was driving and was sorry for not telling anyone.

Police obtained a search warrant for Maida's emails to verify her version of events.

Partly based on the correspondence, police have charged Maida with leaving the scene of an accident with death, DUI manslaughter, driving under suspended license causing death and giving a false report to law enforcement.

Maida has been booked into the Palm Beach County Jail and his initial court appearance was continued until Wednesday.