The driver accused of hitting and killing a 13-year-old developmentally disabled girl on Long Island pleaded guilty in court Wednesday.
Michael Elardo, 48, the former NYPD officer charged with leaving the scene of a June crash in Levittown that killed Bryanna Soplin, appeared in court in Mineola. Around midnight June 15, Elardo was driving on Hempstead Turnpike in Levittown when he struck Bryanna as she crossed the street. Elardo surrendered the next day.
In court Wednesday, Elardo admitted knowing that he struck a person and left the scene. He pleaded guilty to the charge he was indicted on in July: leaving the scene of a fatal incident without reporting. He will serve between one and a third and four years in prison and is scheduled for sentencing Oct. 14.
Elardo, of Syosset, had claimed that he thought he hit a construction barrel when he ran over Soplin, who apparently sneaked out of her home late at night and was trying to walk to her grandparents’ house.
He had been released from jail after a Brooklyn appellate court judge reduced his bail from $1 million to $50,000, outraging Soplin’s family. His attorney argued the $1 million bail was excessive and that his client was a single father of four with strong community ties.
District Attorney Kathleen Rice has been vocal about increasing the maximum sentence for the charge. “A driver who flees the scene of a collision should not benefit from that flight,” Rice said. “The penalty for leaving the scene should be increased to discourage drivers from fleeing.”