Some motor vehicle crashes are accidents. Others are preventable. On rare occasions, a crash can be intentional.
On New Year’s Eve a young woman lost her life in a Warwick crash. The other driver fled the scene, but was quickly apprehended and charged.
Now, as the family attempts to cope with unimaginable grief, they’re urging prosecutors to levy the most serious charges possible against the driver police say traveled at speeds around 100 miles per hour before he slammed into the victim’s Nissan.
Do a series of desperate Facebook posts from just hours before the crash illustrate the driver’s intent?
What happened on Interstate-95 in the first early morning hours of 2022?
What repercussions will follow?
Will justice be served?
Every time Olivia Passaretti walked out the house, she stopped to give her folks a hug and a kiss and an adamant “I love you.”
“She never didn’t say ‘I love you,’” recalled her mother, Janine Passaretti-Molloy. “She was the calm one in the family. She loved karate. She loved softball. She loved her sisters. She loved her family.”
The final night of 2021, the last night of Olivia’s life, was no different.
“On New Year’s Eve … she was halfway out, and she looked back and she said, ‘I love you guys,’” recalled Olivia’s stepfather Dennis Molloy. “And then she stopped and ran back in and went behind the couch, and gave me a big hug from the back and gave me a kiss. She came around and gave (her mother) a big hug and a kiss. That’s how she was all the time.”
The Passaretti daughters lost their father six years earlier. The family struggled, but a sense of normalcy had finally, slowly returned.
“That last night, I had gotten up, and I had said to her, standing at the counter of the kitchen … ‘Olivia this is going to be a good year for us,’” Janine recalled. “Her dad passed six years ago. She was only 11. It was sudden. It was tragic, and we had to go through that. We were finally at the point where we were happy. I could feel it. I looked at her and I said it.”
Olivia had two older sisters; one’s an EMT, the other a nurse.
Olivia and her middle sister, Victoria, left their parents’ East Greenwich home on New Year’s Eve, in separate cars, to meet their oldest sister, Jackie, at her Warwick home for Chinese food.
“She drove her car,” her mother said. “Her sister Victoria drove her own car. I called them at midnight and said ‘I love you, Happy New Year, and I’ll see you soon.’ And then I’d fallen asleep.”
Around 1 a.m., Jan. 1, Rhode Island State Police responded to a two-car crash on Route 95 South in Warwick.
Rescue crews found Olivia’s car upside down against a tree. They found a second car on the scene, empty. The driver had fled.
After eating their New Year’s feast, Olivia left her oldest sister’s house and started toward home.
Her other sister Victoria left about 10 minutes later, but when she arrived home, Olivia wasn’t there.
“I heard somebody come home,” said Dennis Molloy. “We were in bed sleeping. Olivia had left Jackie’s house about 10 minutes before Victoria did. So Victoria came home. That’s what I heard. And then I heard her leave again. Which was a little weird, but I fell back to sleep.”
Victoria went back out, to retrace her sister’s route home. She was worried. She called her sister’s phone repeatedly.
“Victoria must have driven right by the scene but didn’t know it because the police weren’t there yet,” Dennis said. “She drove right by the whole thing, but couldn’t see it because Olivia’s car was off the road.”
When she went back out, looking for Olivia, Victoria found a mass of police cars and rescue vehicles awash in flashing lights.
State troopers from the Wickford and Lincoln Woods Barracks, as well as Warwick firefighters, responded to the highway crash scene, located within the Warwick city limits.
“We’re still in bed,” Dennis remembered, six weeks later. “So Victoria backtracks to try to find her. And now she sees all the police there, which weren’t there the first time she drove by. She had this gut feeling that she should stop and ask. So she pulled up and the State Police wouldn’t let her anywhere near the accident, but she explained to the police that her sister is missing, she should have been home.”
Victoria gave her name to State Police at the scene.
“A couple of minutes later, five state troopers came up to her and said it was Olivia and she was dead,” Dennis said. “So her sister had to see all that. Meanwhile we’re back in bed sleeping. We didn’t know any of this was happening.”
Dennis and Janine felt their bed shake.
“It was Victoria, shaking her mom, but Janine still was sleeping a little bit,” Dennis said. “I woke up and I could see Victoria’s face, which I’ll never forget. It’s going to be burned in my memory for life. She was petrified. And I thought maybe somebody was following her home, because she looked really scared.”
In hindsight, almost any news would have been easier to hear.
“She goes, ‘It’s Olivia,’” Dennis remembered. “And then, when Janine heard that, she heard it was Olivia, she sprung up and said, ‘What? What?’ And Victoria said, ‘She’s dead.’”
In a second, the New Year lost all its hope and promise.
“And that’s how we found out at 1:30 in the morning that Olivia was killed,” Dennis said, while sitting next to his wife in his Warwick martial arts studio. “So I went downstairs and our yard was covered in State Police. And I thought I was going to have a heart attack. My wife was inconsolable. We had to put her in an ambulance and take her to the hospital, where she was sedated because I thought she was going to die. And that’s when we found out it was a car accident.”
The grief was overwhelming; it came in waves that seemed to swell and crash harder with each piece of new information.
“At that point we didn’t have any details, other than the guy who did it got away,” Dennis said. “And the next day, they were able to track him down.”
Rhode Island State Police immediately launched an investigation into the fatal crash. At the scene, police found Olivia’s Nissan, crumpled and overturned, and an empty Mercedes.
Crash investigators quickly determined that the “Mercedes was traveling at a high rate of speed,” struck Olivia’s Nissan from behind, “and forced (it) off the highway where it traveled down an embankment, struck a tree and rolled over,” according to State Police.
Olivia, “the operator of the Nissan, a 17 year-old juvenile, was pronounced deceased on scene by Warwick Rescue personnel,” State Police announced in their first press release of 2022.
The driver of the Mercedes ran from the scene, according to witnesses and police.
“The investigation revealed that a Mercedes sedan was traveling at a high rate of speed in the high speed lane of Route 95 South … as the vehicle approached the Route 117 overpass, the vehicle veered right, traveled across the third lane of travel and entered the second lane of travel,” according to the news release. “Upon entering the second lane, the front passenger side bumper of the Mercedes struck the rear driver side bumper of (Olivia’s) Nissan Altima that had occupied the second lane. As a result, the Nissan was forced across the first lane of travel and breakdown lane before entering the grassy right shoulder and traveling down an embankment where it then struck a tree, rolled over onto its roof, and came to rest.”
State troopers from the Reconstruction Unit and the Forensic Services Unit responded to the crash scene.
“The impact caused the Mercedes to spin several times, cross the first lane of travel and come to rest in the breakdown lane,” according to State Police. “The operator fled the scene on foot.”
“She was almost home,” her stepfather said. “She was going to take the exit. She was literally two minutes from home. So he swerved over to her lane. The witness said he accelerated his car and just rammed her right off the road. And Olivia’s car spun and flipped upside down and hit a tree. The guy who did it, his car spun, but he was still on the road. He was in the breakdown lane. And he got out of his car and just left.”
Kenny Raposo, of Warwick, was driving his pick-up truck on I-95 southbound, with his fiancée, on his way to pick up a friend, when he saw a car enter the highway, traveling far over the speed limit.
Janine Passaretti-Molloy insists her daughter was traveling in the right lane, preparing to exit, just minutes from home.
“The Mercedes, entered the highway, and moved from the slow lane, to the high speed lane; he was going about 100 to 110 miles per hour,” Raposo said this week. “I was in the same lane she was.”
The speeding Mercedes worried Raposo, a construction worker and part-time North Scituate firefighter.
“Before he hit her, he was doing at least 105,” Raposo said. “I thought he might have been a drunk driver or just an idiot on the highway.”
Then, the Mercedes veered toward Olivia’s car.
“He slightly curved into her lane, and hit her on the rear end of her car,” Raposo said. “She spun off the highway. He spun five times in the middle of the highway and ended up in the breakdown lane.”
Raposo stopped his truck immediately.
“I threw my truck in reverse, backed up where she went into the wooded area,” Raposo recalled.
He’s a trained first-responder. If he could help, he planned to.
“I ran down to her,” Raposo said. “Her car was upside down, and she had a faint pulse at that point.”
The car was badly mangled. Olivia was still in the driver’s seat, upside down, the seatbelt holding her in place. He called 9-1-1.
“As a first responder, you know the protocols, and they kick in instantly,” Raposo said. “Her car was so mangled I couldn’t get to her. But I grabbed her hand, and I tried to get her to squeeze mine. I tried to speak to her, but her pulse was very faint.”
Raposo has been keeping in touch with Olivia’s parents. Dennis and Janine are grateful he was on the scene during their daughter’s final moments.
As he held her hand, Raposo could hear Olivia’s phone ringing.
“While Victoria was calling her, (Kenny) was trying to save Olivia,” Dennis Molloy said. “He could actually hear Olivia’s phone ringing while he was trying to get her out of the car.”
Meanwhile, Raposo’s fiancée stayed with his truck. And she watched in horror and disbelief as the driver of the Mercedes fled the scene, ran into the woods, and then returned to the car a few minutes later.
“She watched him get out the car,” Raposo would later tell police. “He went into the woods, came back to the car two minutes later, grabbed something, and went back into the woods. We let State Police know the second vehicle driver had taken off on foot. He pretty much got out of the car, didn’t seem injured, and just jogged off.”
Later that morning, State Police issued a second press release announcing the apprehension of the driver who allegedly caused the crash.
Aramis Segura, 30, was found in Charlestown hiding under his girlfriend’s bed. He was arrested and charged with Leaving the Scene of an Accident Resulting in Death, Driving to Endanger-Resulting in Death, Obstruction of Justice, and Operating on a Suspended License.
Already on probation for prior offenses, Segura remained in custody.
“Segura was also presented as a Superior Court probation violator on a previous charge of Breaking and Entering and was transported to the Adult Correctional Institution, where he is being held,” according to State Police.
“Our condolences go out to the loved ones of the victim for their loss,” said Col. James M. Manni, RISP Superintendent and Director of the Department of Public Safety. “The investigating Troopers worked very hard to quickly apprehend the suspect and we are working with the Attorney General’s office to ensure that justice is served.”
Losing their daughter was bad enough. The weeks following, however, have been worse. The grief seems to grow with each perceived injustice.
After the crash, Olivia’s parents discovered the man who allegedly drove their daughter off the road has an extensive criminal record.
Over the past 12 years, Segura has faced a litany charges from local law enforcement agencies.
He was arrested in West Warwick for breaking and entering in 2010. That same year West Warwick Police also charged Segura with First Degree Child Molestation and Third Degree Sexual Assault.
In 2011, West Warwick Police charged Segura with Fraudulent Use of a Credit Card and Burglary. In 2013, Cranston Police filed Felony Shoplifting charges against Segura.
In 2014, Providence Police picked up Segura and charged him for failing to register as a sex offender, resulting in an Obstruction of Judicial System charge. That year he was also charged with Obstructing a Police Officer.
In 2015, Segura was one of three arrested and charged by Providence Police with Conspiracy, Larceny, Vandalism and Receiving Stolen Goods, for breaking and entering into then-Gov. Gina Raimondo’s state-provided SUV. Police said Segura and his accomplices broke the window of the Chevy Tahoe with a rock and stole a cell phone, while the vehicle was parked outside a state trooper’s home.
In 2016, Providence Police arrested Segura again. This time he was charged with Receiving Stolen Goods, Possession of a Weapon (Not a Firearm), and Obstructing a Police Officer. Later that year, Rhode Island State Police charged Segura with Burglary, Possession of Stolen Motor Vehicle Parts and Tampering with a Motor Vehicle.
In 2017, State Police charged Segura again with Possession of a Stolen Vehicle, Tampering with Vehicles and Conspiracy.
Providence Police also charged Segura with Unlawful Breaking and Entering of Dwelling House in 2017.
In May 2021, Segura was pulled over in Warwick and charged with Driving With Suspended/Revoked/Canceled License (second offense).
Segura’s rap sheet is full of disturbing details, including missed court appearances and suspended jail sentences.
By New Year’s Eve, he was free on probation, but still encountering law enforcement on a regular basis.
In December 2021, two days before Christmas and about a week before the crash that claimed Olivia Passaretti’s life, State Police pulled Segura over for speeding.
Despite his past record, state troopers let him go.
“You know he got stopped one week to the day before this happened,” Dennis Molloy said, frustration rattling his voice. “He was on 95. He was speeding, on a suspended license, on parole! He gets stopped by the State Police. They give him a ticket and let him continue driving. How’s that happen? A week later he kills her on the same highway.”
The Rhode Island State Police have not responded to requests for comment regarding the December traffic stop.
“He could have had his car towed,” Dennis Molloy said. “It was the car he was driving when he killed her. That car could have been towed, it could have been impounded. Any number of things could have happened. I don’t’ understand how you can get stopped like that and just continue to do it. You get stopped by police and they tell you to continue.”
Olivia’s parents have met with State Police investigators since the crash.
“We sat down with the State Police and they admitted it was wrong,” Dennis Molloy said. “They (said) the state trooper will be disciplined. That’s your answer? It doesn’t help me with my child. All of these things were factors in her death — every single piece of it.”
For now, Segura faces non-capital criminal charges that do not carry life sentences.
Olivia Passaretti’s family would like to see a Second Degree Murder charge filed against Segura.
In Rhode Island, where state-sanctioned execution has been abolished, felony charges that carry a possible life imprisonment penalty are called “capitol offenses.”
“We are prosecuting in any given year 9,000 felony cases,” Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Neronha said Tuesday. “In the vast majority of those cases, we’re not there at the time police make the arrest, obviously. We’re not there at the time they make the initial charge. And we’re not there for the initial bail hearing, either, unless it’s a capital case.”
A secret Grand Jury may be hearing evidence connected to the crash that claimed Olivia Passaretti’s life. If the Grand Jury returns an indictment, Neronha’s office will announce the charges. If not, the Grand Jury results will remain secret.
“In this particular case, in consultation with our office, those are the charges that the State Police brought in district court,” Neronha explained. “Those charges are effectively place-holders. We have to charge this case in Superior Court within six months of the incident. It’s at that point that the case becomes, if you will, a true felony offense, based on charges that are brought … in some contexts, without the grand jury, by our office. Those would be non-capital cases — so non-murder cases, non-child molestation cases, non-arson cases, non-burglary cases, non-sexual assault cases. We charge those on our own. For any of those other (capital) cases, it has to go to the Grand Jury.”
Investigators are weighing possible evidence of Segura’s intent on the night he allegedly crashed into Olivia Passaretti’s car. Posts he allegedly wrote on Facebook earlier that night have led the victim’s family to believe the crash was no accident.
“I didn’t expect to see, after the fact, all the messages he posted on Facebook,” Raposo said this week. “They’re not charging him with murder, and that’s not right. You killed a 17-year-old girl. She had her whole life in front of her.”
The Passaretti-Molloy family has been working with Carolyn Medeiros, Executive Director of the Alliance For Safe Communities, in a struggle to ensure Segura faces the stiffest possible punishment if he is convicted.
Together, they organized and held a rally outside Neronha’s Cranston office. Medeiros said more than 1,000 people attended the rally, forcing the Attorney General to take notice.
Soon after, Neronha met with Olivia’s family.
They’ve also unearthed social media comments, allegedly written by Segura, on the night of the crash.
“really caring less and less today,” Segura wrote on Facebook, at 11:34 p.m., Dec. 31, 2021. “really hitting hard f--- it we came I to this earth alone we die alone so why do I care.”
A second comment, linked to the first, says “no ima drink and see what happens I’m a f--- yo I have a benz let’s see if I can f--- it up.”
Medeiros and the Passaretti-Molloy family are convinced the posts illustrate Segura’s intention to go out and hurt someone.
“And then we saw the post on Facebook,” said Dennis Molloy. “Which turned it from an accident to a deliberate act. Which is what we’ve been fighting for, for six weeks now; trying to get his charges upgraded to murder charges because the night that this happened, he posted on Facebook that he was going to take his Mercedes and f… it up. Which is exactly what he did, although he walked away from the accident and killed Olivia.”
“And my baby’s dead,” added Olivia’s mother. “Doing nothing. Just coming home.”
“So for six weeks now, we’ve been fighting for justice for Olivia to get the charges upgraded from Leaving the Scene of an Accident-Death Resulting to Murder-2, depraved heart murder. Which when you have intentions to do something, and you do it, it’s not an accident anymore.”
Neronha would not comment directly on the body of evidence investigators have been building in this case.
However, he said, additional, more serious charges are very possible, depending on the Grand Jury’s decision, should they hear the case.
“The whole thing with murder, right, is intent,” said Dennis Molloy. “So if you post on Facebook that you’re going to take your car and go crash it, and you crash it into somebody else’s car and kill them, it’s not an accident. You can’t accidentally do what you posted you posted you were going to do. You can’t call it an accident if you say you were going to do something, and do it.”
“From what we see on the pictures online, he goes to court, he knows the system,” Raposo said. “He knows how to play it. In my opinion, he’s using it to his advantage. He’s a scumbag.”
Molloy attended Segura’s arraignment.
“He went by foot eight miles, and then limped into the courtroom three days later,” Molloy said. “Because I was at the arraignment. Like he couldn’t even walk. He had a cane. And (was) shuffling in like he was 80 years old. What an act that was.”
As an eyewitness and a first-responder, Raposo has been attempting to process what he saw that night.
“I’ve seen DOA’s, but to see it happen right in front of you … I’ve never seen a child, because that’s what she was, die right in front of me.”
Raposo attended the rally and has been following the case as closely as he can.
“I hope they get the justice they want,” he said. “Olivia’s parents, what they’re doing is making a big difference, hopefully.”
The family would also like to see charges filed against Segura’s girlfriend, who allegedly helped him flee from the scene and nearly concealed his location from police.
“The way they were able to track him down was going back to the scene of the accident that night, this guy’s girlfriend shows up at the accident to get him,” according to Dennis Molloy. “So she stops and says to police, ‘That looks like my boyfriend’s car. I want to make sure he’s ok.’ Then once she saw he wasn’t there anymore, she was like, ‘Oh no, that’s not his car, it’s the wrong color.’ Meanwhile, it’s her car. So she saw what happened. She knew it was his car. And he had taken off and went eight miles to Main Street in East Greenwich, where he borrowed somebody’s phone there and called her again. She picks him up in East Greenwich. Takes him home.”
Neronha said Segura’s girlfriend might still face charges.
“Everyone associated with that incident is under investigation, and that investigation is not complete,” Neronha said Tuesday.
“So she takes him home,” Molloy alleges. “The police track the car to her. They go to her house the next day. She says she hasn’t seen the guy in two weeks. They were able to go in her house because he was a sexual offender — there (were) eight felonies against him before he even did this. And they found him hiding under the bed. That’s when they arrested them. That’s when the name got released. So once we found out the name, we started researching the name, and found out his history of being a career criminal.”
The grieving process has been difficult for the Passaretti-Molloy family.
“It changes it because we should be able to just grieve our daughter for six weeks,” Dennis Molloy said. “We haven’t been able to do that for one day, because the day we found out this guy’s name it wasn’t an accident anymore. But everyone was still treating it like an accident. The police were treating it like an accident. The Attorney General was treating it like an accident. And we had to fight.”
An accomplished Karate black belt, Olivia trained with her stepfather at his Warwick studio since she was 10 or 11.
“She was always pulling for the underdog,” her stepfather recalled. “If she saw you weren’t included in something, she would get you and include you. She did that here so many times, with so many kids.”
“She was always giving messages of hope,” said her mother.
Olivia’s parents say they just want justice served, so they can move on and grieve as a family.
“I just want my justice for my baby girl,” said her mother. “She was an amazing girl in so many ways.”
One of Segura’s attorneys, Angela Lawless, considered commenting for this story. On Tuesday, however, she said via text message that Segura’s legal team has no comment “at this time.”
More than 18,000 people have signed an online petition calling for justice in Olivia’s case.
“It’s growing,” her mother said. “These criminals are being treated like victims.”
Olivia’s mother started the online petition.
“If this criminal said on social media that he was going to use a knife, a gun, a bomb etc. there would be no question of this murder,” she wrote. “His car was the weapon that killed my child. There should be no question. He was out to destroy a life and the life he destroyed was my child’s.”
1 comment on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here
Thursday, February 24 Report this