Tragic Hit-and-Run Incident Claims Life of Promising Young Lawyer

A shocking hit-and-run incident in the early hours of Sunday morning has left the Sydney community reeling after a promising young Kiwi lawyer, Mitch East, was allegedly struck and killed by a rideshare driver distracted by his phone.

East, a Harvard graduate and lawyer at Arnold Bloch Leibler, was reportedly lying on the road in the suburb of Tamarama when he was hit by a vehicle driven by 63-year-old Zisi Kokotatsios around 4 a.m. Passersby found East’s lifeless body at the scene.

Kokotatsios, who is facing multiple charges, including failing to stop and assist after a deadly impact, dangerous driving occasioning death, negligent driving, and illegally using a mobile phone while driving, was granted bail today after spending a night in custody.

According to police allegations, Kokotatsios was illegally using his phone while driving to pick up a rideshare customer when he struck East. Surveillance footage purportedly shows the moment of impact, with the vehicle lifted up from the force of the collision. An audible crash sound was also captured on CCTV, and the vehicle was seen slowing down before fleeing the scene, leading authorities to believe the driver was aware of the incident.

Tragic Hit-and-Run Incident Claims Life of Promising Young Lawyer

The prosecution alleges that Kokotatsios failed to stop and render assistance to East, who was left “lying there dying.” The ride-share driver had previously been charged with using his cell phone while driving in December.

However, Kokotatsios’s lawyer, Mohamad Sakr, has challenged the prosecution’s case, claiming a lack of substantial evidence that his client was illegally using his phone, which was allegedly held in a permitted holster. Sakr also raised concerns about the cause of East’s death and questioned whether it was indeed his client who struck the victim.

Additionally, Sakr argued that East had put himself at risk by lying on the ground and suggested that Kokotatsios would have stopped to help if he had known he had hit someone. The court also heard that the driver sometimes relied on glasses while driving.

The magistrate acknowledged difficulties with the prosecution’s case related to the cause of East’s death and Kokotatsios’s actions while driving, stating that these issues would be addressed at a later date.

As the investigation continues, the tragic incident has highlighted the dangers of distracted driving and the importance of exercising caution on the roads, especially for those operating vehicles for rideshare services.

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