New York— At a court appearance in July, American Hannah Christensen was given a conditional discharge instead of being sent to jail for several years. On the night of November 1, 2018, Ms Christensen had hit Singaporean Renuka Ramanadhan and flee from the scene.
Ms Renuka, a 20-year-old accounting major at the University at Buffalo (UB), suffered from a fractured pelvis and skull, and a traumatic brain injury. She was hospitalized for “a significant period of time” due to the injury to her head, but has since returned to classes at UB.
Ms Christensen, also age 20, had been a second-year biological sciences student at the time of the incident, is no longer studying at the university.
Ms Renuka had been crossing the street in front of the Hadley Village Apartments on the North Campus of the University of Buffalo when a car came suddenly and hit her, and then sped away from a nearby parking lot after seeing emergency responders reach the scene of the accident.
University police security cameras were able to take photos of the car of the accused driver, and asked for anyone with information concerning the incident to come forward. They searched for a dark-colored 2003-2008 model four-door Honda Accord with possible damage to its front right hood, bumper, fender, and headlamp.
Ms Christensen never reported her part in the accident but was arrested by the police on November 16, after they received a tip-off regarding her involvement. She admitted responsibility in the accident and gave a statement to the police.
Ms Christensen was given a conditional discharge on July 31. She has been ordered to complete 150 hours of community service.
The sitting judge on the case, State Supreme Court Justice Christopher Burns, decided against a prison sentence for Ms Christensen, saying that she has shown remorse and has attempted to make amends to Ms Renuka.
Ms Christensen was charged with one count of leaving the scene of an incident without reporting, which resulted in a serious physical injury. This is a class “E” Felony, to which she pleaded not guilty to.
If she had been convicted, she could have served as much as four years of jail time.
John J. Flynn,the District Attorney for Erie County said that if she had reported the incident, she would not have had to face the criminal charge.
He said in March of this year, “Ms. Christensen is a 20-year-old UB student who never got in trouble in her life before and she just made a terrible decision here. These decisions on most of these hit-and-runs are panic decisions where you know you’ve done something, you know you’ve hit somebody, but you make a critical error in judgment. You don’t think about the consequences and you leave the scene and now she’s facing a felony charge.”
But Judge Burns said at her final arraignment, “Human nature sets in and panic sets in. It doesn’t excuse it but it explains it,” he said. /TISG