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Teen Who Crashed Car, Killed Student Sentenced To Probation

October 11, 2018

Teen Who Crashed Car, Killed Student Sentenced To Probation

WILKES-BARRE — A teen driver who crashed a car and killed a Wyoming Valley West High School student last year was sentenced as a juvenile Wednesday to probation.

The driver, now a 19-year-old college student, admitted guilt to a felony count of causing a deadly accident without being properly licensed, a crash that claimed the life of Jasmine Cardona, 16, of Plymouth.

In court Wednesday, Jasmine’s loved ones broke down in tears as they described their heartbreak.

“It hurt because when I heard the words it felt like my heart had shattered,” said sister Janessa Cardona, 10. She broke down at the end of reading a written statement, which a prosecutor finished for her.

“I know she is being taking care of up there. I just wish none of this happened and I miss you, Jas,” the statement said.

Justine Harvey said she was Jasmine’s best friend and that she regrets an argument they had before her death — a “stupid” dispute that now will never be resolved.

“Now I regret it more and more each day because I didn’t get a chance to fix things,” Harvey said. “I blame myself every day for what happened to her. It wasn’t time for her to go. … This car accident changed everything in my life and I will never forget what happened to her. I love you, Jasmine, and I always will.”

The crash took place April 15, 2017, near 985 S. Main St. when the vehicle, traveling south from Wilkes-Barre, suddenly crossed over the northbound lanes upon entering Hanover Twp. The vehicle splintered a utility pole between Division Street and St. Peter’s Lutheran Church and kept going until it stopped in an open field.

Six people were inside at the time including Jasmine, who was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the back seat of the 2007 Mercury Mariner, according to police.

The driver was 17 years old at the time and was charged as a juvenile. As a result, The Citizens’ Voice is not identifying her.

Although the case was handled in juvenile court, the hearing Wednesday was open to the public because of the severity of the charge.

Defense attorney Frank McCabe called the situation a “recipe for disaster,” but said his client was friends with Jasmine and deeply regrets what happened.

“My client has to live with that for the rest of her life too, knowing that someone that she cared about is gone forever,” McCabe said.

The driver’s sister, Nakirah Williams, said her family has been hurt by the tragedy as well.

“I understand that she’s gone and it hurts us as well,” Williams said. “It’s not like she don’t understand that driving without a license is not OK, but it was tragic accident.”

The prosecution told Luzerne County Judge Fred A. Pierantoni III that the driver appears to be a loving person who usually follows the rules and is a “low risk” for offending in the future.

But while it was a terrible accident, the driver still needs to be held accountable for her actions, Assistant District Attorney Matthew Muckler said.

“Unfortunately, we are here because of a terrible accident, but a terrible accident that happened to be a crime, and it is now time for (the driver to face the) consequences of her actions.”

Calling the case a “most tragic situation,” Pierantoni found the driver to be delinquent and sentenced her to a probationary period, with a follow-up review set for March 6. During the period, she will be required to undergo random drug testing and to write a letter of apology.

She will also be subject to a curfew and must continue going to school as part of a sentence Pierantoni said would allow her to “become a responsible and productive member the community.”

Contact the writer:

jhalpin@citizensvoice.com

570-821-2058

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