Driver who hit crowd pleads guilty
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Jun 20, 2014, 10:56
HOPEWELL — An agreement was reached in Hopewell Circuit Court for the woman charged in connection with a hit-and-run case that left six people injured. Sateesha Linton, also known as Sateesha Brown, was originally charged with six felony counts of hit-and-run but is now awaiting sentencing on six other charges.
Linton pleaded guilty to a felony count of hit and run, three counts of not reporting an accident with damages greater than or equal to $1,000, driving on a suspended license and reckless driving. Hopewell Commonwealth’s Attorney Richard Newman said upon talking to five of the six victims, all wanted the charges changed so they could pursue the matter in civil court.
Newman said that if the charges had stayed at six felony counts of hit-and-run, it is likely the victims would not have gotten far.
“When I’m talking about intentional acts, I could have charged her with attempted malicious wounding ... which would have had intent, that it was intentional,” Newman said. “And accidental insurance won’t cover it.”
Newman told Judge Nathan Lee during the court date in May that “none of the victims in this case were opposed to the agreement.”
Personal injury attorney, Lee Bujakowski, with Marks and Harrison, who is representing three victims in this case, said insurance companies can have written in the policies that the driver will be covered if injuries are sustained through negligence.
“But if you intend to cause injuries that result in a car accident, an intentional act, there may be no coverage,” Bujakowski said. “They can deny you coverage ... basically it’s the insurance company saying ‘We’re not going to pay for your intentional acts that you commit. We pay for your negligence.’”
The question as to whether or not the incident was intentional has been decided by the courts, regardless of the events on that afternoon last December.
At the time of the incident in December of last year, witnesses said about 15 people were walking on Bolling Drive shortly before 2:30 p.m. when a silver Kia turned the corner off Gloucester Drive, about 50 feet from the location of the witnesses, and gunned the engine.
To avoid being hit by the car, the group of people began to scatter in all different directions. The car swerved into several people as they lined up along a three-foot chain link fence. The car then turned around in a nearby driveway, drove away and parked behind a home about a block away in the 4000 block of Gloucester Drive.
The six victims of the hit-and-run that were sent to Southside Regional Medical Center ranged from ages 4 to 34, and two of the victims included a mother and her young daughter.
At the time of incident, the Hopewell Police Department said speed and alcohol did not appear to be factors in the cause of the crash. The brother of the one of the victims said that his 15-year-old sister beat up Linton before the crash occurred.
Linton was arrested a short distance from the scene and taken to Riverside Regional Jail.
Police confirmed that the driver and some of the victims of the crash were involved in a physical altercation before the crash occurred.
Bujakowski confirmed that his clients are facing significant medical bills. Regardless of the charges in court or why they had been changed, his mission in his case remains the same.
“We are going to pursue both full and fair compensation for our clients’ injuries just like we do for all of our clients,” he said. “My client wants full and fair compensation for the injuries they sustained. That’s what we’re focused on. We will pursue this as far as we possibly can.”
Linton will face sentencing for the charges in July.