A driver who left a fellow student from the University at Buffalo in New York seriously injured after a hit-and-run was able to evade jail time for showing “sufficient remorse.”
Singaporean Renuka Ramanadhan was walking along a zebra crossing in front of her residence on the university’s north campus shortly before 10 p.m. on November 1, 2018, when a 2005 Honda Civic hit her and knocked her down.
The car was driven by Hannah Christensen who later fled the scene upon seeing emergency responders attending to the victim. Both women were 20 years old then, reports the Buffalo News.
Ramanadhan, who was born in India, moved with her parents to Singapore
when she was younger. In Singapore, she attended Global Indian International School and Singapore Polytechnic institute before moving to Buffalo last year to complete her undergraduate degree at the School of Management.
After the accident, she spent several weeks recovering at the Erie County Medical Centre for multiple injuries including a broken hip, broken arm and severe brain damage due to the skull fracture.
Meanwhile, Christensen was arrested two weeks later after the police received a tip about her possible involvement in the incident. According to the officers, she was remorseful and cooperated by giving a statement.
Christensen was charged with a felony count of leaving the scene of a serious injury accident without reporting it to authorities.
At a recent trial, she told Justice Christopher J. Burns of the State Supreme Court in Buffalo that she never wanted to put that kind of pain on someone.
“I can’t believe I did that,” she was quoted as saying. “I can’t imagine what her family was thinking, wondering if they were ever going to hear their girl talk again.”
Christensen’s remorse convinced the judge to grant her a one-year conditional discharge and 150 hours of community service instead of jail time for the hit-and-run case.
Noting that he did not think that jail time was appropriate, Judge Burns said he found that Christensen displayed “a sufficient level of remorse.”
According to Burns, while exhibiting panic in such circumstances is not an excuse, it somehow helped explain what happened. He added that Christensen did “the right thing” by not playing “try and catch me” and turning herself in when the police tracked her down.
Ramanadhan, who has reportedly recovered and returned to classes at the university, did not submit a victim impact statement and “just wants to move on with her life,” an assistant district attorney told the judge.
The judge was also informed by Christensen’s lawyer that an attempt to get both parties to meet for reconciliation was made via Ramanadhan‘s attorney, but the victim “ultimately declined.”
Meanwhile, Christensen was “technically” suspended from the university with some likelihood of being expelled. Her lawyer has indicated that she will be enrolling into another school.