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Pennsylvania college driver thinks she hit purse, not pedestrian

A Pennsylvania woman said she never realized the Volkswagen Passat she was driving struck a person. Instead, the 18-year-old driver believed the vehicle's side mirror hit a purse a woman was carrying through a college campus crosswalk.

Police in Bethlehem Township in the eastern part of the state had a decidedly different view of the Nov. 2012 pedestrian accident. The victim, another student at Northampton Community College, did not suffer a serious injury.

The woman sustained a minor ankle sprain. It was not clear from reports whether the injured student sought medical attention. Authorities are calling it a hit-and-run.

The driver moved through and past the campus intersection without stopping after the collision with the walker. The suspect said it was because she never knew an accident took place.

The Lower Nazareth Township resident was recently charged with causing a personal injury accident and failure to yield to a pedestrian in a marked crosswalk. Additionally, the teenage student faces charges of neglecting to aid the victim and report the accident to authorities.

The suspected was ordered to post $2,000 bail and released.

Witnesses told investigators they noticed the side mirror on the Volkswagen was collapsed. Observers also reported that the driver continued on her way as if nothing had happened.

The victim probably did not require more than a single medical visit to treat the sprained ankle. The harm done was slight but prosecutable.

The teenager said she did not intentionally harm the woman in the crosswalk. In fact, the suspect claimed she was unaware of causing any injury at all. Lack of intent and ignorance of harm are no excuses for negligence.

Careless behaviors by drivers never seem to be purposeful. Personal injury and wrongful death defendants often say they never meant to hurt anyone. What a defendant meant doesn't matter to a jury as much as what a defendant did that was harmful.

Source: bethlehem.patch.com, "Pedestrian Hit by NCC Student's Car, Police Say," Daryl Neri, Feb. 17, 2013

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