Volume 76, Number 20 | October 4 - 10, 2006

Villager photo

James Crouch has come to New York City from North Carolina to investigate the unsolved death of his son Joshua, below, in a hit-and-run incident in the Village on the West Side Highway.

Slain musician’s father, friends scour West Side looking for clues

By Lori Haught

The last photo taken of Joshua Crouch late on the night of Sun. Sept. 17 before he was killed in the early morning of Mon. Sept. 18.

Two weeks ago, musician Joshua “LEFTist” Crouch was killed in a still-unsolved hit-and-run accident on W. 12th St. and the West Side Highway. His family and friends want answers.

If anyone can provide information that leads to the apprehension and conviction of Crouch’s killer, James Crouch, the victim’s father, is prepared to offer a $10,000 reward.

“We’ve been doing all the legwork that the police should have been doing,” said Morgan “C.O.N.C.E.P.T.” Lamarre, Crouch’s best friend and band mate. Together with Crouch’s father and eight of the slain man’s friends, they have been retracing Josh’s last steps the night of the fatal accident trying to gather as much information as they can.

James Crouch — who has come up from North Carolina to help investigate his son’s death — angrily said that the Accident Investigation Section of the Police Department’s Highway Patrol has written off the case. In the police report, the charge was classified as a misdemeanor for leaving the scene of an accident, although vehicular homicide is a felony.

He further blasted the police report, noting that it didn’t even identify the race of Josh — who was white — describing it as “unknown.”

So far, they have found out that Crouch went to Capital Grille on E. 42nd St. — where he worked as a part-time barback — to meet with some co-workers who were friends. They then went out for dinner to Buddakan at 75 Ninth Ave. in the Meat Market. He left there with three female co-workers from Capital Grille and went to Employees Only, a bar at 510 Hudson St., the last place where he was seen alive. They believe he left there about 2 a.m. — possibly with a French woman he met at the bar.

Somehow he ended up near the Hudson River — three blocks west and several blocks north of the bar — when he was struck and killed by an unknown vehicle traveling southbound on the highway.

His family and friends want answers more then anything else.

“Was he with someone? Did he stop along the way?” James Crouch said.

Lamarre said Crouch, who lived in Williamsburg, often went to the Christopher St. Pier to think. He found it peaceful. He said that Crouch was probably heading for the L train on W. 14th St. when the accident occurred.

According to James Crouch, his son never crossed against the light on large highways. Even if Crouch was slightly intoxicated, his father is sure that he wouldn’t have made the mistake of crossing against the light when he saw headlights. However, both he and Lamarre noted that Josh, who was nearsighted, was not wearing his glasses that night because they were broken. James Crouch is sure that the vehicle that hit him had to have run the light.

In their investigation, Lamarre and James Crouch stood at the street crossing on the highway where Crouch was hit and monitored the traffic the other night during the hours when the fatal accident occurred. They said they observed a Department of Sanitation truck run the red light going about 50 to 60 miles per hour at around the same time Josh was hit.

“Detective Rooney with the A.I.S. said they checked out the Sanitation trucks and they were ‘clean.’ What does that even mean?” James Crouch asked. “Only Detective Blain at the Sixth Precinct has done anything to help us.”

Josh leaves a younger brother and sister.

“All that he achieved — he was their hero,” James Crouch noted.

“His wife hasn’t slept, Jimmy hasn’t slept, the kids are crying all the time and can’t go to school,” Lamarre said of the Crouch family back in Wilmington, N.C. “They need closure.”

James Crouch won’t leave New York until he finds answers.

“We just can’t leave this unsolved for Josh,” he said.

They have been talking to an assistant district attorney in order to get the film from red light cameras along the West Side Highway subpoenaed, so that, if nothing else, they’ll know who was driving along the highway between 2:30 a.m. and 3:45 a.m. the night of Josh’s death.

They are also trying to talk to Congress-member Nydia Velazquez, who represents Williamsburg, where Josh lived.

Detective Blain is helping them get official Crime Stoppers reward posters from the Police Department made up. In the meantime, they have made and are posting their own posters offering a $10,000 reward.

“If you have children, you can’t even begin to imagine what I’m going through,” James Crouch said.

The family asks anyone who might have seen anything suspicious that night, or perhaps heard someone talk about the accident later to please come forward.

“He was my best friend,” James Crouch said of his son, “and now he’s gone.”

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