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Woman who seriously injured man in vehicle crash sentenced to one year
(Submitted photo,)

A New Jersey woman who struck a Mount Airy man with her vehicle while he was walking across the intersection of Md. 26 and 27 last year will serve six months in jail for failing to return to and remain at the scene of the accident.

Tania Isabelle Brown, 48, entered a plea agreement with the state July 22 and was sentenced Tuesday to serve six months of a one-year term in the Carroll County Detention Center, with the balance being suspended.

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The collision occurred late on Sept. 14, 2013, and Brown was not found until nearly three weeks later, following a search by the victim's family, according to Senior Assistant State's Attorney Kelley Galvin.

Brown was never charged in connection with the crash itself and, according to Judge Michael M. Galloway, if she had stayed and assisted the victim, Michael Hatfield, she may not have been charged with anything.

Bystanders called 911 and helped Hatfield while waiting for emergency services, but the judge said things could have turned out differently if the collision had not happened on a well-traveled road.

"If this had occurred on a lonely, dark road, would he have survived?" Galloway asked.

Hatfield, who was 18 at the time of the incident, spent weeks at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center and more than a week in a medically-induced coma due to a traumatic brain injury, according to Galvin.

He sustained a shattered hip and leg and required multiple surgeries, Galvin said. Hatfield still has difficulty moving, suffers from nearly constant pain and has short-term memory issues, she said.

"The hospital records were a box," Galvin said.

Hatfield's mother, Melissa Hatfield, said she was nearby at the time of the collision and heard the sirens.

"I was home and when I heard the ambulance I knew something happened because my son didn't call me right away," she said.

Hatfield said she ran to the site of the accident when she got a call from police and saw her son being tended to by emergency services.

"His legs were bent in ways I didn't know they could bend," she said.

Hatfield said in the days following the collision, doctors were concerned her son might lose his leg or, if not, he might not be able to walk.

"I pretty much lived in the hospital," she said. "I watched everything they did to him."

Michael Hatfield was due to begin training for a job as a mechanic the Monday following the collision, according to his mother, but it has been determined that, due to his physical and cognitive issues, he will not be able to continue on the same career path.

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Her son is also unable to drive due to the weakness in his legs, she said.

Michael Hatfield addressed the court Tuesday, informing the judge he still has nightmares about the crash and has difficulty sleeping. He also said he gets nervous near roads and is afraid to cross at intersections.

"I don't get how someone can leave someone there and just live on with their life," he said.

Public defender Thomas Nugent Jr. said interviews conducted with Brown indicated she did not feel safe about stopping and originally thought she had struck an animal.

"Had she stopped, this would have worked out very differently," Nugent said.

Galvin said the state was concerned not only that Brown did not remain at the scene, but also that she continued to avoid coming forward, even after learning that she had injured Hatfield.

"She just kept running and running," Galvin said. Police eventually had to obtain a warrant and extradite Brown from New Jersey.

Upon her release from the detention center, Brown will be placed on 18 months of supervised probation and be required to complete 150 hours of community service, according to Galloway.

Galvin said there is also a pending civil case stemming from the crash.

Reach staff writer Heather Cobun at 410-857-7898 or email heather.cobun@carrollcountytimes.com.

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