"Stop the damn car, and find out what happened."
That's what Judge Kenneth F. Case said Wednesday morning, as he expressed his frustration in Erie County Court about the number of hit-and-run drivers who killed and injured people in the past year. One of those drivers – the second this week – appeared before Case for sentencing.
This time it was Wade J. Sanders, 54, of Buffalo, who ran down Arthur Redrick on Bailey Avenue in May and then sped away, leaving the 60-year-old man to die. The prelude to the incident was captured by nearby security cameras, showing Redrick leaving a store at Lang Avenue, starting to cross the street, and then, in a panic, running to try to avoid the white SUV that was speeding toward him. The impact occurred out of camera range.
Sanders was sentenced to 1 2/3 to five years in prison, having pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an incident resulting in death. Although it was suspected that Sanders had been drinking, the judge noted that Sanders never was charged with that, since his arrest came when he turned himself in two months after Redrick was killed.
Before the sentencing, Tanika Lucas, a niece of Redrick's, spoke on behalf of her mother and the family.
"This tragedy has left us heartbroken and in disbelief that our brother was taken from us in this horrible way," she said, adding, "His name was Arthur Redrick. I hope this name will ring in (Sanders') ears every day."
She added that hopefully, when Sanders is eventually freed, he will not drink and drive again, "but I don't have much faith in that."
Sanders told the family he was "very sorry" for what he did.
The judge thanked the Redrick family for being in court and told them, "I can see the pain in all of your faces."
Then, shaking his head, Case continued, "I don't understand these cases. I don't understand how people can leave the scene of an accident resulting in severe injury or death.
"I hear people say they thought they hit a dog," the judge said, and, his voice rising, he banged on the bench and said, "Stop the damn car and find out what happened! I don't understand! Decency requires that you stop and get out and look."
And with that he pronounced his sentence.
After court, Assistant District Attorney Christopher M. McCarthy said, because of the nature of the crime, he expects that Sanders will be in prison for close to the five years.
Yesterday, Judge Case sentenced Theodore Canaski, 29, of Wheatfield, to 1 to 3 years in prison for leaving the scene after he struck a woman on Ontario Street in September. The 55-year-old victim, a Burmese refugee, was trying to cross the street when Canaski hit her with the mirror of his vehicle.
McCarthy, who prosecuted both cases, said the woman is recovering, but the injury severely disrupted her life as a family caregiver.