Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim opens up about fatal car crash

Syracuse men’s basketball coach and Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim has opened up about his fatal car crash that left a 51-year-old man dead after a game in upstate New York back in February.

In an interview with Esquire, Boeheim described the night he fatally struck Jorge Jimenez, who was wandering outside of his car after a previous accident along the same road in Onondaga County.

‘It’s a miserable thing because a man was killed,’ Boeheim said.

According to police, Jimenez’s wrecked vehicle was blocking several lanes of traffic when Boeheim’s SUV was approaching.

Syracuse men's basketball coach and Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim has opened up about his fatal car crash that left a 51-year-old man dead after a game in upstate New York back in February

Syracuse men’s basketball coach and Hall of Famer Jim Boeheim has opened up about his fatal car crash that left a 51-year-old man dead after a game in upstate New York back in February

Boeheim expressed his condolences to the Jimenez family after the accident. 'This is something that will be with me, for the rest of my life,' he said. A native of Cuba, Jorge Jimenez (pictured) was known as a sociable family man, according to Syracuse.com

Jimenez was walking on the highway after a previous crash when he was struck by Boeheim's SUV

Boeheim expressed his condolences to the Jimenez family after the accident. ‘This is something that will be with me, for the rest of my life,’ he said. A native of Cuba, Jorge Jimenez (pictured) was known as a sociable family man, according to Syracuse.com. Jimenez was  walking on the highway after a previous crash when he was struck by Boeheim’s SUV

‘I thought I was going to just go straight into the car, but I got around,’ the 74-year-old Boeheim told Esquire. ‘I actually made a move – because there was nobody in the road – to get past the car. As I’m going by, the guy steps out.’

Boeheim was not charged in the crash, and the teetotal coach’s toxicology report came back clean.

In fact, it was Boeheim who called the police to report the accident, and some reports have claimed he helped direct traffic around the mangled automobiles.

Later, Boeheim explained, he got a letter thanking him for the effort.

‘I got a letter from a guy who said I saved his life because he was going too fast and he saw me and slowed down and was able to get off,’ he said. ‘You know that you did everything you could and it just didn’t work and then somebody’s dead and it’s terrible. There’s no way to talk about it or explain about it.’

It was reported at the time that Boeheim was driving down Interstate 690 in Onondaga County when he suddenly came upon four people walking alongside the road. One of the men, 51-year-old Jorge Jimenez, was struck by Boeheim's GMC Acadia and was pronounced dead

It was reported at the time that Boeheim was driving down Interstate 690 in Onondaga County when he suddenly came upon four people walking alongside the road. One of the men, 51-year-old Jorge Jimenez, was struck by Boeheim’s GMC Acadia and was pronounced dead

The police body cam video does confirm the wet and icy conditions that the drivers referred to

The police body cam video does confirm the wet and icy conditions that the drivers referred to

Boeheim has also received letters from others in similar situations.

‘The crazy thing is, I’ve had 500 emails, minimum – perfectly serious – more than 500 emails from people that had the same thing happen to them,’ he said. ‘The testimony, the inquest, or whatever — it’s hard. And it should be hard.’

The crash occurred after Boeheim’s Orange had upset 18th-ranked Louisville at Syracuse’s Carrier Dome.

Police body cam footage was later released, showing the conditions to be cold, dark, and wet.

Boeheim’s face is blurred in the video, but it’s clear that it is he who is seated in the front passenger seat while being questioned by police.

It was reported at the time that he was driving down Interstate 690 in Onondaga County when he suddenly came upon three people walking alongside the road. One of the men, 51-year-old Jorge Jimenez, was struck by Boeheim’s GMC Acadia and was later pronounced dead.

As seen in the video, the 74-year-old Boeheim quietly asked if Jimenez was still breathing.

‘When I walked up, he was not,’ the officer said.

The police body cam video does confirm the wet and icy conditions that the drivers referred to

The police body cam video does confirm the wet and icy conditions that the drivers referred to

‘Basically this Charger right here has four occupants in it,’ said one officer to several others. ‘It goes into the guard rail. He says it was slippery, icy. Goes into the guard rail, all the passengers get out, they start walking down the left side here. As they’re walking down, [Boeheim is] coming down, sees at the last second, swerves to the left, misses the car, hits one of the people walking and then stops his car right there.’

One officer asked if Boeheim smelled of ‘anything,’ but another said that he could not detect an odor.

‘No I did not,’ the officer said. ‘I got a little bit of a cold, so I’m not saying doesn’t. It just wasn’t obvious to me.’

Boeheim, who reportedly abstains from alcohol, was not found to be intoxicated.

The officers on the scene seemed to sympathize with Boeheim’s situation.

‘Dude, that sucks,’ said one officer. ‘If you’re not doing anything wrong and you kill somebody.’

At one point while police were assessing the situation, one officer said to another that it was Boeheim – a local and national celebrity – who was driving.

‘I think it’s the SU basketball coach,’ said one officer.

‘Boeheim?’ asked the other.

After playing basketball at Syracuse, Boeheim went on to serve as an assistnat coach from 1969 until 1976, before moving into the head coaching position, which he has held ever since

After playing basketball at Syracuse, Boeheim went on to serve as an assistnat coach from 1969 until 1976, before moving into the head coaching position, which he has held ever since

‘Yeah he’s in my car right now.’

The footage supports law enforcement’s claim that the road conditions were wet and icy at the time of the accident.

Although Boeheim was speeding 11 mph over the 55 mph limit, he was not found to be responsible for the accident.

Near the end of the video an officer tells Boeheim that he will be brought to traffic court for a sobriety test and to give a statement.

‘After a careful review of the facts and circumstances of this case … I concur with [the police] findings that this was a tragic accident. No charges will be filed against anyone involved,’ Onondaga County (N.Y.) district attorney William J. Fitzpatrick concluded in his report.

‘A secondary contributing factor is pedestrian error/confusion as the pedestrians remained on the dark highway dressed in dark clothing for a prolonged period of time after being aware of on-coming vehicles nearly colliding with the Dodge Charger,’ the report said.

Boeheim expressed his condolences to the Jimenez family after the accident.

‘This is something that will be with me, for the rest of my life,’ he said.

At one point while police were assessing the situation, one officer said to another that it was Boeheim – a local and national celebrity – who was driving. 'I think it's the SU basketball coach,' said one officer. 'Boeheim?' asked the other

At one point while police were assessing the situation, one officer said to another that it was Boeheim – a local and national celebrity – who was driving. ‘I think it’s the SU basketball coach,’ said one officer. ‘Boeheim?’ asked the other

A native of Cuba, Jimenez was known as a sociable family man, according to Syracuse.com.

‘My father was a man who was very sociable, very happy. He loved to help everybody without question,’ Yurisandy Jimenez Arrastre said in Spanish. ‘He loved having friends. Everybody loved him because of his way of being: Going to the casino, listening to music, dancing…’

Jimenez had reportedly been living in the U.S. for 20 years after arriving from Las Tunas, Cuba.

He had only recently moved to Syracuse.

Jimenez had two sons and his 29-yar-old daughter, Arrastre, who lives in Florida with her children.

‘He loved his family very much. He was very clean and he loved to cook and invite the family to eat together,’ she said. ‘He made many jokes always to his grandkids.’

Jimenez was reportedly buying cigarettes when the crash happened.

He spoke with his daughter for 20 minutes earlier in the night, when he checked in on her three children aged 10, 5 and 18 months.

Boeheim has coached the Orange since 1976 and previously played for the school between 1963 and 1966.

He guided Syracuse to its only national title in 2003, and ranks second in Division I men’s basketball history behind Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski with 946 wins. Even Syracuse’s court at the famed Carrier Dome in upstate New York is named for the 74-year-old Hall of Famer.

Under Boeheim the Orange have reached the final four five different times and have won the Big East Tournament five times as well. 

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