MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — She was days away from her 19th birthday.
A scholar student and enthusiastic volunteer was killed by a hit-and-run driver just blocks from her Levittown home.
On Thursday, that driver pleaded guilty as victim Taranjit Parmar‘s family listened and wept, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported.
For the mother of the victim, her father and relatives, it was a mournful walk to court.
Eventually, they came face to face with the man who dragged, ran over and killed their talented and brilliant daughter, an honors student at Adelphi headed to NYU Dental School.
“If you are going to have a daughter, this is the one. You know how people say? We’ve been blessed,” said Ranjit Parmar, the victim’s father.
Raw emotion spilled from the courtroom as Taranjit’s close-knit family listened to the guilty plea that will send Daniel Coppolo of Deer Park to prison for five to 15 years, the maximum sentence for manslaughter in the second degree.
He was a communications employee of the FDNY and a college graduate who majored in environmental science.
“Unfortunately, my client suffers from a bipolar disorder. When he fails to take his medication, he moves into a manic state,” defense attorney Lawrence Carra said.
The incident happened in November 2017 on the Hemsptead Turnpike in Levittown. Coppolo’s pickup truck collided with the victim. She had gotten out of her vehicle at a gas station to exchange papers and phoned her mother, who heard her daughter’s final screams for help.
“She said, ‘Stop! Oh no, stop!'” Ranjit Parmar said.
“It is really incomprehensible that this young, beautiful woman with such a promising life had her life taken from her over something so trivial,” said Maureen McCormick, the executive assistant to the Nassau County district attorney. “It was a minor fender bender.”
Coppolo admitted he fled the scene, later driving to a Target store in Westbury, which he robbed before abandoning his truck. It was found with a concealing compound over the damage.
“This was a high-stressful case. We had a lot of public outcry, a lot of CrimeStoppers help. The community really pulled together to bring this here to court today,” Nassau County Police Homicide Chief Det. Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick said.
“I just want another hug. That’s all,” Ranjit Parmar added.
Coppolo is eligible for parole in five years.
Some relatives of the victim and court observers expressed deep frustration that the maximum sentence for manslaughter is so brief.