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Judge: Maximum sentence can't ease the pain of grieving family

Hit-and-run accidents often result in more serious injuries as the victim may have no one to turn to for medical assistance in the immediate aftermath of the collision. In these cases, otherwise survivable injuries can become fatal wounds, and hit-and-run victims or their survivors may need to explore legal options beyond criminal court to hold a wrongdoer fully accountable under the law.

Over two years after a 19-year-old Hawaii Pacific University student was killed in a hit and run, the man responsible for the fatal accident has been sentenced in criminal court. The driver, a former Navy officer, pleaded guilty in February to leaving the scene of the crash.

The circuit judge presiding over the case handed down the maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The accident happened near HPU's Kaneohe campus, on Kamehameha Highway, when the man struck the student in a crosswalk and fled the scene. His BMW sedan showed serious front-end damage two days later when he turned himself in to police.

Video presented during the sentencing showed the events as they occurred, and the judged noted that there was nothing she could do to truly ease the pain of the deceased young woman's family members, who were present for the sentencing.

Leaving the scene of an injurious accident is a serious offense that is punishable in criminal court. However, even if a driver is not found guilty or receives a light sentence, victims or grieving family members can bring an injury claim or a wrongful death claim to pursue the full measure of legal justice.

Source: Star-Advertiser, "Driver sentenced to 10 years in crash that killed HPU student," June 14, 2014

Source: KITV.com, "Driver receives 10-year sentence for Kaneohe hit and run," Nana Ohkawa, June 13, 2014

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