MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – A hit-and-run driver was sentenced Monday in the death of an 18-year-old college student on Long Island.
“I am so proud, so proud to be known as Taranjit’s mother,” said a tearful Kalvinder Kaur outside the courthouse, her raw emotions spilling out moments after the sentencing.
Parmar was days away from her 19th birthday when she was struck by Coppolo in Levittown.
Police said Parmar and Coppolo got into a fender bender in November 2017 on the Hempstead Turnpike. When she exited her Jeep to exchange information, he hit her and fled the scene.
The Adelphi University honors student was on the phone with her mother, who listened to her final screams for help.
Coppolo, a former emergency services dispatcher of the FDNY, pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter in April. He admitted he fled the scene, robbed a Target store and then abandoned his pickup truck.
He was convicted of manslaughter, leaving the scene, and tampering with physical evidence.
Copolo has bipolar disorder and was on psychiatric medical leave from the FDNY.
“He stopped taking drugs, and as a result was acting irrationally for a period of time, and unfortunately did not get the help that he needed,” Coppolo’s attorney Lawrence Carra said.
“We had an opportunity here to help somebody, to prevent this, and the system said no,” said Frank Coppolo, Daniel’s father.
The courtroom was filled with Taranjit’s adoring friends and family, forced to recall the 2017 crime, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported. The fender-bender turned to life-ending tragedy. Coppolo dragged the victim and ran her over as she approached his truck to exchange papers. She was on the phone with her mother when she was killed.
“She called out ‘Stop, oh no, stop,'” her father Ranjit Parmar said.
Police later found Coppolo’s pickup truck abandoned in a Westbury lot, where he’d tried to conceal damage and was arrested committing a shoplifting crime.
During the sentencing, the victim’s “letters to self,” written in high school, were read aloud. She dreamed of her future: Falling in love, a successful career, caring for family.
“Most important thing to her: Be nice to people. Help people,” her father said.
“I wish I could be like her,” her mother said.
Those in the courtroom were unable to choke back sobs, McLogan reported.
“We are going to forever love and miss her. She is going to live with us in our memories,” Kulvinder Kaur said.
“Taranjit Parmar was a beautiful young woman with her entire life ahead of her when she was senselessly killed by this defendant’s recklessness,” Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement. “It is incomprehensible that this defendant could selfishly take the promising young life of an 18-year-old woman over a trivial fender bender. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the Parmar family for their unbearable loss and we hope that today’s sentence brings them some solace and deters other reckless drivers.”
In consoling Taranjit’s parents, the judge advised them to not let their loss consume them, and to try to dwell on Taranjit’s compassion, love and spirit to go forward.