It was sad and shocking for Steven Firlotte, a Winthrop man, to watch a car strike and kill his son’s yellow Labrador retriever earlier this week. But when that car just kept driving and Firlotte was forced to start a search for its driver, it brought the hurt to a whole different level.

“The accident isn’t the issue,” said Firlotte, who calls the whole situation “extremely overwhelming.”

“It’s that he didn’t stop.”

The collision occurred at 6:45 p.m. Monday, when Firlotte was playing with the dog on the lawn of his home on Narrows Pond Road. Firlotte had thrown a ball for the dog, whose name was Lexi, and when she couldn’t find it, she went into the road.

That’s when a silver car driving along Narrows Pond Road struck the dog and continued onto Winthrop Center Road, said Firlotte. Lexi, just under 2 years old, died a few minutes later.

The man operating the car has since contacted both Firlotte and the Winthrop Police Department, who are investigating the hit-and-run.

Though he has come forward, police have not charged the man with anything yet, said Lt. Dan Cook. At the time he contacted them, police were searching for vehicles that matched the description of a silver car with front end damage that witnesses had provided.

Because the investigation is ongoing, Cook withheld the suspect’s identity Wednesday, but he said the police could file charges of failing to report an accident by the quickest means and leaving the scene of a property damage accident. Cook also cautioned that there may be relevant circumstances he has not learned.

“I’m pretty sure the suspect is going to be identified and we’re going to be able to put this to a close,” Cook said.

Firlotte did not want to identify the man, either.

After carrying the dog out of the road Monday evening, Firlotte said he reported the accident to police. He also posted signs along his road with a description of the vehicle, which had front end damage after the accident. The signs included a plea for anyone to provide information that might lead Firlotte or police to the driver, or vice versa.

A day later, the man contacted him.

“Once (the driver) found out the dog died, he was very taken aback all day,” Firlotte said. “He voluntarily called me back and apologized and realized he made a huge mistake. He did the commendable thing.”

But even though he appreciates that the man eventually came forward, Firlotte hopes other drivers can use this as a reminder to stop if they ever hit another person’s pets.

“It’s bad enough to see the accident,” he said. “But then to deal with the hardship of someone not stopping? It’s not OK for someone to do this. People’s love for their animals is a powerful thing.”

For Firlotte, just as tough was delivering the news to his 17-year-old son, Devin Firlotte, who was not present at the time of the accident and who got the dog two years ago while living at his mother’s home in Camden (she and Steven are divorced). They have since buried the dog in Camden, next to another dog the family used to own.

“(Devin is) in total disbelief that such a lovable animal, that only wanted to swim, chase a ball and show affection, had to die in such a tragic manner, long before she should,” Firlotte said.

Now Firlotte said he is grateful to all the friends, neighbors, police officers and first responders whose collective efforts got the word out about the accident and convinced the driver to come forward.

He is also overwhelmed about all the attention the case has received from the news media and the authorities.

“I didn’t want this to turn into a legal, newsworthy event,” Firlotte said. “I just wanted my son to have closure.”

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker


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