Mountain View Voice

News - April 22, 2011

Woman sentenced for felony hit-and-run

Prosecutors will not seek jail time for driver who killed man in crosswalk

by Nick Veronin

Keibun Son, the woman who killed an elderly Mountain View man with her car as he crossed the street in a crosswalk last summer, pleaded no contest to felony hit-and-run April 14. She faces up to one year in prison, and her license will be revoked for one year.

The court dismissed the misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charge "in the interest of justice, with a stipulation that the court can impose restitution for the collision," according to Amy Cornell, a spokeswoman for the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.

Son struck Manuel Enos, an 80-year-old man, in her Toyota Corolla at the intersection of California and Franklin streets at about 7:40 p.m. on July 19. She then left the scene.

The result of the accident — Enos' death — and the hit-and-run element raised concerns among some Voice readers, who called for harsher penalties for Son.

However, a spokeswoman for the police department and the prosecuting deputy district attorney on the case said that the punishment was appropriate.

"When she hit him, she completely panicked and went straight home," said Mountain View police spokeswoman Liz Wylie. "She did the wrong thing. She made the wrong choice. But it's not uncommon for people to do something like that."

Wylie added that after consulting with her husband, Son quickly turned herself in and was completely cooperative with police who came to her Saratoga home the night of the accident and arrested her. Son was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and, according to Wylie, had never been in trouble with the law before.

One of the officers noted in the official police report that Son expressed guilt for hitting Enos and asked about his condition.

Katrina Ohde, the prosecuting deputy district attorney in the case, said that Son's early acceptance of responsibility and willingness to plead guilty to a serious charge were "important factors" in determining her sentence.

"She was very cooperative," Ohde said. "In this case we did agree that we will not be seeking that she go to prison."

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