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Lake County man sentenced in hit-and-run accident

A 27-year-old man will serve eight years in prison after a Lake County, Florida, court convicted him in connection to a fatal hit-and-run accident. The crash, which occurred in 2010, killed a 69-year-old man and his dogs.

The man faced up to 30 years in prison for leaving the crash site, but Florida guidelines called for a sentence of less than two years. However, the judge decided on an eight-year sentence, with an additional three years of probation for causing the serious car accident. The man was also sentenced to five years in prison for operating a vehicle without a valid driver's license, but he will serve his two terms simultaneously.

The victim's relatives were upset that the man was not dealt a harsher sentence. His daughter lamented that the man will "be a relatively young man when he gets out and is able to drive again." Because the family was displeased with the sentence, they may be able to seek justice in another way. For instance, they could file a wrongful death lawsuit against the man and potentially recover damages compensating them for the loss of their relative.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the fatal accident occurred as the victim was walking in a grass-covered area along the side of a road with his dog. The victim was struck by a pickup truck. Witnesses claim they saw the truck stop after the collision, but then it backed up and fled from the site.

The man admitted in court that he had taken prescription medication on the night of the crash, and that he should not have been behind the wheel. The judge told him that this statement contributed to his conviction more than the forensic evidence against him. The man had been previously convicted for illegal prescription drug possession.

Source: Orlando Sentinel, "Lake County man gets 8 years for fatal hit-and-run crash," Ludmilla Lelis, June 25, 2012

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