SACRAMENTO, CA - A woman charged with driving under the influence when she struck a bicyclist, dragging him for a quarter-mile, was sentenced to four years, four months in prison in Sacramento County Superior Court on Monday.
Amira Fakira had been charged with six counts in the Jan. 31, 2010 incident which seriously injured Sanjay Patel on Folsom Boulevard under a Highway 50 overpass. She pleaded no contest to felony driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs causing injury and sought probation.
A bystander who witnessed the hit and run crash grabbed the keys from the ignition of Fakira's SUV when she stopped at a red light.
At Monday's sentencing hearing, Fakira was tearful as she pleaded for mercy from Judge Gary Ransom. Her attorney asked that she be put on probation and serve a year in the county jail.
"I just want to apologize for my horrible actions to my family and my community. This is just shameful," Fakira told the judge.
Her attorney pointed out his client "is young. She has no record. She has accepted responsibility and is remorseful." He also said Fakira had gone through two alcohol and drug rehabilitation programs.
Then Fakira apologized to Patel who was sitting in the courtroom. "I'd like to apologize to you, Mr. Patel for hurting you. I never meant to hurt you. I was careless and I didn't know what I was doing that night," Fakira said.
After listening to a long letter from Patel detailing broken bones and severe injuries he received to his scalp, spine and legs, Judge Ransom was ready to rule.
But first Ransom chastised Fakira calling the crash an "absolutely horrific, avoidable circumstance whereby two lives were ruined." He added, "The court feels that even though you're eligible for probation, there is no way in good conscious I could in any way shape or form, offer you probation."
Ransom sentenced Fakira to four years and four months in state prison prompting her to burst into tears. As she was handcuffed and led away she told a family member to take care of her parents.
Afterwards Patel said, "I'm feeling very sad right now because she also has to go through a bad time. But it is the law and the punishment is necessary so other people out there can learn."
He added, "If she doesn't get punished, then others will ignore the laws."
A restitution hearing was scheduled for Feb. 24. Patel says his medical bills totaled more than $1 million. He was riding his bike home from work when he was struck.