SANDPOINT — A Cocolalla man who accidentally struck a Lake Pend Oreille School District student at a bus stop is being ordered to serve 29 days in jail for failing to report the collision, which broke the boy’s leg.
Jason Dwight Newsome was cited for driving without privileges and failing to report the crash, both of which were misdemeanors. However, a felony charge of leaving the scene of an injury crash was added due to the severity of the boy’s injuries, according to court documents.
Newsome, according to Idaho State Police, struck the 7-year-old boy in October of last year at a bus stop on Gun Club Road. He put the boy into his vehicle and drove him home, although he swiftly departed without identifying himself or remaining at the scene to await law enforcement or an EMS crew.
Newsome, 37, was ordered to stand trial in 1st District Court following a preliminary hearing earlier this year. Newsome pleaded not guilty to the felony offense and was prepared to argue that he was unconstitutionally being subjected to double jeopardy due to the dueling felony and misdemeanor court cases.
However, Newsome agreed to plead guilty in the misdemeanor case in exchange for the dismissal of the felony one. He was sentenced on May 11.
Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall argued the disposition of the case was appropriate given the hit-and-run collision was not a typical scenario where a motorist strikes someone and immediately flees the scene without rendering aid to avoid culpability.
“He did not just take off. He did bring the child back. Now, he should not be getting Citizen of the Year, either, because what he did from there was totally inappropriate,” Marshall said of Newsome’s departure after taking the boy home.
The state recommended 10 days on the sheriff’s labor program and credit for one day of pretrial incarceration.
The boy’s mother disagreed with that recommendation, noting that it took her son twice as long to regain the ability to take a few labored steps on his own two feet. She said her son suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and has the gait of an arthritic person.
“His leg has nerve damage to this day. He wakes up and he walks like a little old man. He is still in pain,” she said, clarifying that the son was run over rather than being struck.
Newsome’s counsel, Sandpoint attorney Fred Palmer, said he didn’t wish to minimize the seriousness of the incident, but said there were indeed mitigating factors, which included the boy being unattended at a bus stop clad in dark clothing on a dark morning.
“This isn’t a typical hit and run,” said Palmer, adding that the incident drove his remorseful client into seclusion and counseling.
Palmer recommended two days on the labor program, a 60-day license suspension and a $500 fine.
“I’d like to apologize to the courts. I’d like to apologize to (the victim and his family). I hope you have a full recovery in time,” Newsome said.
Judge Barbara Buchanan held that incident was a “tragic accident” that didn’t result from impaired driving or an intent to do harm.
Buchanan imposed a 180-day sentence with 150 days suspended and credit for one day, resulting in a 29-day custodial term.
“You were trying to evade responsibility,” she said. “You’ve been suffering and rightly so. You did the wrong thing and you need to accept responsibility.”
Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.