Two years after 18-year-old Taranjit Parmar was fatally run over by a man who was attempting to flee the scene of a minor traffic collision, the driver was sentenced to 5-15 years in prison.
Daniel Coppolo, a former FDNY dispatcher, ran over Parmar after she got out of her Jeep to exchange information following a fender-bender accident in November 2017.
NBC New York reports that Parmar's family wept openly in court June 17 as Coppolo was sentenced to five to 15 years behind bars. Just prior to sentencing Coppolo, Nassau County Judge Terence Murphy read two letters the victim, Adelphi University student Parmar, wrote at age 17 to her past and future self.
In one letter, the Indian American teenager wrote, "the 17-year-old me can't wait to fall in love," the judge read, according to the report.
Murphy paused repeatedly while reading the letters to tell Coppolo, "This is what you took away. This is what you stole from her parents."
"You took off like a scared rabbit, a coward, unable to face the pain you inflicted," Murphy added, the media outlet said.
The sentencing came a little over a month after Coppolo pleaded guilty to the crime (see India-West article here: https://bit.ly/2L70ljR).
According to Nassau County, New York Police Department reports, Parmar was traveling eastbound in her 2018 Jeep around 5 p.m. Nov. 9, 2017, on the Hempstead Turnpike, a few miles from her Levittown, New York, home. She was struck by the driver of a red pickup truck, who was traveling northbound on the turnpike, but attempting to turn eastbound.
After the minor collision, Parmar got out of her car to assess the damage, and exchange information with the other driver. As she was surveying her car and phoning her mother to let her know what had happened, the driver – identified as male by police – revved off in his car, striking Parmar and mowing her down as he fled the scene.
The young student was transported to an area hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Parmar sustained trauma to her head and chest.
In court June 17, Parmar's parents described her as a "living angel," the NBC New York report added.
According to her LinkedIn page, Parmar was studying biology at Adelphi University; she had a 4.0 GPA and had been scheduled to graduate in 2020.
Prosecutors had said Coppolo knew what he had done and may have even tried to cover it up. They say he waxed and detailed his red pickup truck after the hit-and-run. He was arrested about six weeks after Parmar's death, the report continued.
An attorney for Coppolo, who has a record including a DWI, had pursued an insanity defense. The attorney said Coppolo was bipolar and off his medication at the time of the hit-and-run. Ultimately, the lawyer said bipolar disorder didn't rise to the level of an insanity defense so his client accepted a deal and pleaded guilty in April to manslaughter, among other crimes, the report said.
Coppola's father on June 17 blamed the health system for what he described as failing his mentally ill son.