LEVITTOWN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Five months after their teen daughter was mowed down and killed by a hit and run driver, Taranjit Parmar’s emotional family walked into a courtroom to face the accused.
“If you’re going to have a daughter, this is the one,” said Ranjit Parmar, Taranjit’s father. “We were blessed.”
The indictment against 32-year-old Daniel Coppolo of Deer Park was unsealed Monday. Coppolo, an FDNY communications employee, was formally charged with manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident, assault, reckless endangerment and tampering with physical evidence.
Days shy of her 19th birthday, the talented and brilliant Adelphi University student was slated to begin a four-year program at the NYU College of Dentistry.
Prosecutors say a red pickup truck hit her bumper in front of a gas station near Hempstead Turnpike near Gardiners Avenue in Levittown. She was just blocks from her home.
Taranjit got out to exchange papers with the the other driver and called her mother on her cell, who heard her daughter’s final screams for help. Authorities allege Coppolo struck her while trying to flee the scene.
“She said ‘stop – oh no, stop,'” said Ranit Parmar.
Friends ask how could a minor fender-bender result in this horrible tragedy, reported CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan. Defense attorneys claim the FDNY dispatcher was on medical leave for mental health issues and failed to take his prescriptions. His family declined comment.
“I can genuinely say the family and my client are very sympathetic to the loss of a child. That is devastating and traumatic to everyone,” said defense attorney Lawrence Carra.
“Then why did he flee?” McLogan asked.
“We never said that he fled,” Carra replied.
“He is the quintessential flight risk,” said Nassau County District Attorney Michael Bushwack. “He fled the scene, evaded detection as long as he could.”
The Parmars plan to be in court every step of the way.
The FDNY has suspended Coppolo. A judge has ordered him held on $1 million bond.