Charging a driver who hits a cyclist for anything is disturbingly rare (see here, here)—in New York City a family is lucky if they can even see charges filed for leaving the scene of an accident. Out in Long Island the chances of doing time for running down a rider is a little bit higher, but not much. Take, for instance, Nicole Shellard, a 33-year-old woman who has pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter, second-degree vehicular manslaughter and other charges in the May 2010 death of 45-year-old Kathryn Underdown. Though Shellard admits she was on a mix of prescription pills when she mowed down her victim [paywall], she'll only be serving 1 1/2 to 4 1/2 years in prison.
Shellard admits that before she went on a fateful and erratic drive on Route 25A she had popped a plethora of pills including soma, suboxone and Xanax. As the ADA in the case pointed out, after hitting Underdown and fleeing the scene, "she hit another car a half mile down the road." And yet she seems to have charmed the Suffolk County Court judge presiding over the case enough for him to bring her sentence down from 2-6 years, provided she completes a nine-month inpatient rehab program.
The lightened sentence has outraged Underdown's family, who were adamant that her killer get no less than the maximum of 5 to 15 years. "I know she has no remorse," her husband, Michael Slovitsky, told Newsday. "It's a deal, just a deal. ...It's just horrible."