A hit-and-run motorist who killed a Bronx pedestrian in a 2013 crash pled guilty last week to leaving the scene, but could be sentenced to as little as probation.
Harlem resident Abigail Lino, 24, was outside a Bruckner Avenue club in Longwood at around 3 a.m. last August 31, reports said, when a security guard warned that someone had a gun and she and others went running.
She was hit in the street by Leroy Forest, who was driving “a speeding silver SUV,” according to the Daily News:
Witnesses said Lino’s body was thrown in the air by the callous driver before she came to rest in the center of the street. The driver sped off into the early morning darkness, police said.
“It’s hard to think about … we had just been inside having a good time. It’s really hard to believe,” said Ayalla Ingram, 24, who was walking with Lino moments before the accident.
“The car didn’t even slow down,” Taylor added. “It actually looked like it sped up (after it hit her).”
Lino worked for UPS and was a caregiver for her then-20-year-old sister, who has Down syndrome. She was also raising the young child of an ex, according to reports.
Forest, of the Bronx, was arrested the day after the crash. According to court records, Forest pled guilty on May 1 to leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury, a class D felony punishable by up to seven years in jail, and which also allows for no jail time, or probation.
Leaving the scene was the top charge against Forest. District Attorney Robert Johnson did not charge him with homicide for killing Lino.
New York State law gives some drivers an incentive to leave the scene of a serious crash. The penalty for hit-and-run is less severe than the penalty for drunk driving, and the decision to issue charges for leaving the scene currently rests on the courts’ ability to divine driver intent, which makes “I didn’t see her” a viable defense. Fixing hit-and-run laws is one of the goals of Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan.
Forest is scheduled to be sentenced in June.