Hit-and-run death of Cornell grad on West Side Highway still unsolved

Posted at 9:40 PM, Jun 18, 2014
and last updated 2014-06-18 21:24:45-04

PARSIPPANY, N.J. (PIX11) — Linda Quinn can’t shake the memory of three police cars pulling up to her New Jersey home the morning of March 9, 2013.

The speech therapist was on a business call, but the officers told her to hang up and sit down. The news they had was brutal.

“They said, ‘Your son was hit by a car, and he didn’t survive,’” Quinn recalled tearfully. “And I was like, ‘I have two sons. Was it Jeff?’”

The officers shook their heads.

“And they said, ‘No, it was Andrew,’” Quinn said.

Andrew was the youngest of Linda and Jack Quinn’s four children, a 22-year-old recent graduate of the Ivy League’s Cornell University. Just months before, he had snagged a coveted position with Tishman Realty and Development in Manhattan.

He was a gifted musician and athlete who had won an international business competition at Cornell. From the time he was a high school sophomore, he was “laser focused,” his father told PIX11 Investigates.

“We were all just sitting back watching Andrew,” Jack Quinn said. “Because he’s just accelerating. But a very easy demeanor, very easy to get along with.”

Andrew’s death rocked an extremely close-knit family, where Andrew was the youngest by eight years, after the third child, Kathy. Kathy became engaged in early 2014, but hasn’t started making wedding plans.

“I cannot fathom the idea of a day when I should be happy, and my best friend, Andrew, is not standing there,” Kathy Quinn said through tears.

Police Officer Michael Sharpe from the NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad pointed to the map that was drawn at the scene where Andrew Quinn’s body was found in the left, southbound lane on the West Side Highway, about 300 feet south of 24th Street.

He told PIX11 Investigates that no surveillance cameras picked up the impact and no witnesses saw Andrew Quinn being hit.

“It was about 2:55 in the morning when we got the first call,” Officer Sharpe told PIX 11 News. “All the witnesses just stated they saw the body there. They didn’t see a vehicle leaving the scene.”

Police say the headlight lens from a car was found near Quinn’s body, and it was consistent with a lens from a 2003 or 2004 Toyota Avalon. But they’re still not sure that was the car that hit Quinn.

“The lab did test the clothing for paint transfer and did find traces of a white vehicle paint,” Sharpe said.

The NYPD Crimestoppers Unit is offering a $2,000 reward for any tip that leads to an arrest and conviction.

One of the witnesses who saw Quinn’s body on the road was a U.S. Army medic who was passing in a cab. He stepped out of the car and gave the young man CPR on the scene. Linda Quinn spoke to the medic, who didn’t want his name made public.

“He said (Andrew) was breathing his last breaths, so he couldn’t be revived,” Linda Quinn recalled of the conversation. “I was comforted knowing he didn’t die alone.”

Jeff Quinn, Andrew’s older brother, said he hopes the unknown driver is “tormented” by what he or she did.

Oldest sister Colleen, the mother of Andrew’s beloved niece Ella, said whenever the family celebrates happy occasions, sadness still returns.

“It’s like being dropped off a 10-story building,” Colleen Sears told PIX11.

The Quinn family does get some comfort from three scholarships endowed in Andrew’s name, from Cornell University, Tishman, and Parsippany Hills High School.