EVERETT, Wash. – It’s been one year and a day since a driver hit a young man, drove off and left his victim paralyzed forever, changing his life in one moment.
On Tuesday, the man behind the wheel faced a judge for sentencing after he pleaded guilty to a felony charge.
The victim, Scotty Becktell, was also in court, hoping the judge would sentence the driver to the maximum penalty.
“It’s just hard when I can’t do a lot,” said Scotty.
Scotty's family said he always has a smile on his face. But ever since a driver crashed into him, leaving him paralyzed from the stomach down, he has been waiting to see the man responsible pay for his crime.
“I’m kind of angry,” said Scotty, “But I can’t really do much about it right now.”
“It’s pretty hard for him to get around and do things like a normal person,” said Scotty’s mother, Lynn.
The crash happened in January 2016 while Scotty was heading home from work. He was crossing 128th Street SW in Everett when a driver hit him and then took off.
The impact injured Scotty’s spinal cord. He spent months recovering at Seattle's Harborview Medical Center, where doctors told him he would never walk again.
“Worst night of my life getting that phone call,” Lynn said.
“It’s really cruel to leave somebody on the road,” said Scotty.
After the crash, police released a short surveillance video in the hope someone could recognize the suspect's car. Detectives said a Q13 News viewer called in the tip that pointed investigators to 34-year-old Scott Duncan.
At first Duncan told police he wasn’t sure he hit anything, and he then blamed his foggy windshield for not seeing Scotty in the crosswalk.
Later, Duncan pleaded guilty to a charge of felony hit-and-run. During sentencing, Scotty heard the apology he had been waiting for.
“I would just like to say how sorry I am for everything that’s caused to their family,” said Duncan. “If I could take everything back and put his injuries into me I would.”
“It’s morally outrageous that you left this poor man in the street injured to fend for himself and thankfully no one else hit him,” said Judge Millie Judge during Tuesday’s hearing.
Prosecutors asked the judge to impose a 6-month sentence, three months short of the maximum. Duncan’s attorney said the crash was the first time he had ever been in trouble with the law. The attorney asked the judge for no jail time, but the judge said Duncan had to pay for his actions.
“I think what really happened here is that you know it happened and you panicked,” she said. “I’m going to impose 8 months in custody. There’s no community custody following that, it’s just slightly below the maximum. I think that’s just.”
After the judge read the sentence, deputies took Duncan into custody. That’s when Scotty’s smile returned.
“Not as much as I’d like but hopefully enough to teach him a lesson,” said Scotty.
“I don’t have any sympathy for somebody who goes off and leaves an injured person,” Scotty’s grandmother Terry Robertson said.
Now Scotty and his family hope other drivers pay closer attention to the road, so people on foot have a fighting chance.
“He’s going to have some time to think about what he did to our family and to Scotty,” Lynn said about Duncan’s sentence.
“I may not be able to walk again but it’s good enough,” said Scotty.