What to Know
- Taranjit Parmar, 18, got out of her Jeep to exchange insurance info when an ex-FDNY dispatcher ran her over and left her to die in 2017
- Daniel Coppolo was arrested about six weeks later; he was sentenced Monday to 5-15 years as part of a previous plea agreement
- The victim's family openly wept in court as the sentence was handed down; they described their daughter as a "living angel"
The heartbroken family of an 18-year-old New York college student killed by a driver when she tried to stop him from fleeing the scene of a fender bender on Long Island wept openly in court Monday as the former FDNY dispatcher who took her life was sentenced to five to 15 years behind bars.
Just prior to sentencing Daniel Coppolo, of Deer Park, Nassau County Judge Terence Murphy read two letters the victim, Adelphi University student Taranjit Parmar, wrote at age 17 to her past and future self.
In one letter, she wrote, "the 17-year-old me can't wait to fall in love," the judge read.
Murphy paused repeatedly while reading the letters to tell Coppolo, "This is what you took away. This is what you stole from her parents."
"You took off like a scared rabbit, a coward, unable to face the pain you inflicted," Murphy added.
Coppolo got into a minor accident with Parmar in Levittown in November 2017. Prosecutors had said the two pulled into a parking lot, but Coppolo refused to hand over his insurance information. He tried to drive away, but Parmar held onto his pickup. She was dragged, then run over by his vehicle and left to die in the street. Parmar was pronounced dead at a hospital a short time later.
In court Monday, her parents described her as a "living angel."
Photos on the woman's Facebook page indicated she had a zest for life and loved outdoor activities. According to her LinkedIn page, Parmar was studying biology at Adelphi University; she had a 4.0 GPA and had been scheduled to graduate in 2020.
Prosecutors had said Coppolo knew what he had done and may have even tried to cover it up. They say he waxed and detailed his red pickup truck after the hit-and-run. He was arrested about six weeks after Parmar's death.
An attorney for Coppolo, who has a record including a DWI, had pursued an insanity defense. The attorney said Coppolo was bipolar and off his medication at the time of the hit-and-run. Ultimately, the lawyer said bipolar disorder didn't rise to the level of an insanity defense so his client accepted a deal and pleaded guilty in April to manslaughter, among other crimes.
At the time of the plea, the defense attorney expressed remorse on behalf of his client, saying, "He wishes he could turn back the hands of time but that's not possible."
Coppola's father on Monday blamed the health system for what he described as failing his mentally ill son.