Guilty plea in fatal hit-and-run; victim's family calls deal unfair

2014-04-29T13:20:00Z 2014-04-30T08:42:08Z Guilty plea in fatal hit-and-run; victim's family calls deal unfairBob Kasarda, (219) 548-4345

VALPARAISO | Family members of a fatal hit-and-run victim are unhappy with the terms of a plea agreement that calls for a potential sentence of two to eight years for the driver.

"Two to eight years is not fair to the family," said South Bend resident Diane McClung, sister of victim Ricky Kimble, of LaPorte.

Patricia Callahan, 50, pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death in return for prosecutors dropping two other Class C felony charges of reckless homicide and insurance fraud.

"She (Callahan) might as well pat herself on the back — she won," said another sister of the victim, Mattie Alonso, of South Bend.

Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper took the proposed plea under advisement and will decide June 24 whether to accept it and carry out sentencing.

Callahan told the court she was driving along Interstate 94 after dark Aug. 4 when she struck something that broke her windshield and caused substantial damage to her car.

She did not stop and did not report the incident to police, but instead sought to have her car repaired, during which time evidence of hitting a human was discovered. Callahan also reportedly filed an insurance claim stating she hit a deer and some construction equipment causing more than $4,400 in damage to her Pontiac G6 GT.

Callahan said Tuesday she did not know she struck a person, but does not doubt the findings that reveal she hit Kimble.

Acquaintances of Callahan said she was at a home in Gary playing cards, drinking vodka and tequila the night of the accident. Witnesses said she left about 4 a.m., taking a bottle of tequila with her. She contacted the friends the next day to get a ride to Walmart saying she hit a deer. The friends said they didn't believe her and later checked for reports of a person hit by a car.

Kimble was reported missing Aug. 5 by his girlfriend. His body was discovered by a mowing crew Aug. 6 near the eastbound lanes of I-94. An autopsy showed numerous fractures to his leg and spine and internal injuries that were consistent with being struck by a vehicle going at considerable speed.

McClung said her brother was walking to work when he was struck.

Callahan questioned a part of her proposed plea agreement that required as part of any probation, she take park in a substance abuse program and victim impact panel. She said she has neither a drug nor alcohol problem.

The proposed plea also calls for a six-month driver's license suspension.

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