Woman to serve year in prison for hit and run

A woman who struck a parked car on Hamilton Avenue in Norwich two years ago, causing severe injuries to two people, and then fled the scene and drove home will be sentenced in April to a year in prison.

Amalia Rivera, 37, of 40 Donohue Drive pleaded guilty Thursday in Superior Court in Norwich to evading responsibility. The victims of the crash, including a young woman who had two legs amputated, are expected to address the court when Judge Kevin P. McMahon sentences Rivera on April 4 to eight years in prison, suspended after one year served, followed by three years of probation.

Rivera was driving home after leaving Foxwoods when she swerved off the right side of Hamilton Avenue and struck a parked car, injuring a man and woman, according to prosecutor Thomas DeLillo. She fled the scene and police found her later at home.

Rivera told police she had been gambling at Foxwoods Resort Casino and had two glasses of wine, according to a police report. She said she thought she had struck an animal but could not remember the accident and had left the scene because she wanted to go home. She said she didn’t drink often and that even small amounts of alcohol affect her.

Police had arrived at the crash scene to find Melissa Laribee, 20, screaming from pain with a partially amputated leg. Both legs were amputated as a result of the crash, according to court officials. Her boyfriend, Joseph Patch, suffered a partially collapsed lung.

A witness to the crash said she saw a dark four-door car smash into a neighbor’s Acura. She said the female driver looked at her before taking off. Police recovered a headlight assembly, which had the Chrysler logo. Police checked the area and found a Chrysler 300 with what appeared to be fresh front-end damage at Rivera’s address.

McMahon said Rivera’s sentence reflects the fact that she had no prior criminal record. He noted she now has a felony conviction.

“As soon as this case came in, we knew it was going to be a rough one,” the judge said. 

Though the case was heard in Norwich, the April 4 sentencing will take place at the Broad Street courthouse in New London.

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