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Guy gets a year in jail for paralyzing two in Arborway crash

A Brighton Municipal Court judge today sentenced Nikolas Papadopoulos, 20, to a one-year sentence in a county jail for a Sept. 6, 2013 crash that paralyzed one of his passengers and the driver of the pickup he smashed into head on.

The judge actually sentenced Papadopoulos to two years in jail, but suspended half the sentence on the provision he stay out of trouble for five years. Suffolk County prosecutors had asked for jail time of at least 18 months.

A Suffolk Superior Court jury last week convicted Papadopoulos of negligent operation - a misdemeanor - agreeing with prosecutors that Papadopoulos was responsible for the crash because he was going way to fast for the Arborway when his car crossed the median barrier, flipped over and went head first into a pickup driven by Kevin Cellucci. One of Papadopoulos's passengers, Mark Delamere, then just 14, suffered permanent spine injuries when he was ejected from the car.

In a joint victims' statement, the families of the two most seriously injured people thanked Boston Police and the Suffolk County District Attorney's office - and blasted Papadopoulos:

His reckless actions have forever changed our lives. The fact that he showed little remorse after the accident, sought to portray himself as a victim and then tried to cast aspersons on the Boston Police Department and the District Attorney's office was reprehensible. Mor. Papadopoulos will most likely not have to serve the time he was given, and he will them move on with his life as he has done since the accident. His life will only be briefly interrupted. The interruption in our families' lives will not end.

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Comments

They ruled that he can get his license back in 5 years. What a joke. He ruined two peoples lives. How much more evidence do you need that this guy does not belong behind the wheel for the rest of his life?

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At your reasoned response focusing on the individual who should never drive, rather than your usual rant against all drivers. I mean that sincerely and agree with your comment entirely.

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So, to recap, this guy ruined two peoples lives...then accepts a plea deal. Then backs out of the plea deal because he didn't understand he'd have to serve one year in prison and demands a trial.

He loses the trial and is sentenced to spend one year in jail. Great job to district attorneys prosecuting this kid...jesus! Trial probably cost $200k+ and didn't even yield a better verdict.

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You realize you just complained about how much the trial cost the taxpayers but that it didn't result in putting this guy's room-and-board on the taxpayers for long enough, right?

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The rest of his life is (presumably) a long time, he should never be able to drive again? Mind you I'm not sure I disagree with you, but rehabilitation and contrition are possible. I can see the argument that the two victims, or at least one from what I read will never walk again, therefore the defendant not being able to drive ever again makes some level of sense. Just not sure that should be a blanket position to have.
In general though our laws, however lax they may be are still our laws. And once your debt is paid there shouldn't be much else in the way of punishment.

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Driving is a privilege not a right. Plenty of people are unable to drive because of disability (like the ones his criminal driving caused). Many more live fulfilling lives without cars. He should join their ranks.

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You think never's too long? How about "until his victims are no longer paralyzed"? I mean, you seem to regard losing a license as an unbearable restriction on this guy's life, but all it's preventing him from doing is DRIVING A CAR. If his victims can live out their lives unable to walk due to his actions, he can live out a much fuller life without the ability to drive.

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Is there any evidence that a person's driving continues to improve with experience after they've held a driving license for two weeks? Probably.

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In Adam's report, I see nothing about license suspension (or lack thereof). The is going to serve a year in county, then for the next 4 years he has to stay clean or he's back in jail for another year on this charge.

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I have no direct personal connection to the victim. I do know a number of people who do. I am stunned that the best the prosecution could do was convict this man of a misdemeanor. I don't know if there is a felony he could have been charged with. But a year seems lenient. Terrible.

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Take issues with the laws as written. There is motor vehicle homicide which carries a maximum 15 years sentence and is a felony. That's not applicable here. After that you have either operating recklessly or operating negligently so as to endanger. Both are misdemeanors which carry a maximum sentence of 2 years. There is nothing in between they could have charged him with.

If you want to argue that the Commonwealth's laws on driving offenses are too light, I'm with you completely. But the DA's offense did what they could here in charging him. The judge gave him a year instead of the maximum two years the DA requested. It's an awful situation. I too know people who know the victims, it's gut wrenching.

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Fortunately there can still be a civil lawsuit, right?

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Without a question.

Separate from a civil suit, in circumstances like this he should be liab to pay restitution for an extended period of time after released.

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Thanks. I figured it was something like that. It would seem there needs to be a change in the statutes to address incidents like this.

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Ain't no way that was nearly enough to begin with. Despicable.

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Next time this guy wrecks the life of someone, I want the right to sue the judge for letting him off so easy.

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Judges are above the law. You can't sue them.

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This is absolutely disgusting. This violent criminal should lose his license to drive for life. I wonder how lenient our public servant prosecutors will be on the woman who dragged another woman under her SUV for 3 miles.

Driving should be a privilege, not a right.

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Violent criminal??? Do you mean kid with little driving experience?? I think people need to learn forgiveness It was a horrible ACCIDENT!!

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An accident is bumping into another car while parallel parking. When this idiot did was reckless disregard for human life and safety.

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I somehow think your tune would be rather different.

Reckless and illegal use of a dangerous weapon resulting in death is reckless and illegal use of a dangerous weapon resulting in death. Good to see somebody actually do time for this sort of deadly weapon misuse - hopefully, we will see more in the future.

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So purposely speeding and potentially drag racing is an accident? I dont think so. When you are given a license you follow the rules of the road there are no exceptions due to age or experience. He was a threat to people on the road and by speeding he could not expect anything good to come from it. This was no accident, this was a crash... a crash that affects so many people that will have to live through this for the rest of their lives while he serves his absurdly minor sentence for the damage he has done. He was no victim, he is the one who gets off easy. I advise you look more into this situation and the true damage it has caused.

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One of the reasons to punish someone is on the grounds is dissuades others from not doing the same thing.

In this case the opposite is true. It sends a message to other kids they drive like jackasses, destroy four lives, and the worse that will happen is they'll spend a year in jail. It almost encourages other to do the same since the worst case outcome isn't so bad.

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A year in jail, along with a year probation, and living the rest of your life knowing you ruined the life of at least one person is a pretty big deterrent. Do you really think a teenager is going to be driving down a busy road and think to himself "gee, I better not speed and pass on the right, I may get 10yrs in prison"

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Deterrent? You think people like that have a conscience? Here's a hint: THEY DON'T

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It sounds like this kid really doesn't care about the fact he ruined four lives. That's the horrible part. If he was in horrible mental agony over it the short jail time wouldn't seem so bad.

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He's apologized to the people in his car that were injured. He hasn't apologized to the Cellucci family because that would affect his criminal trial and the civil suit. How can you fault someone for wanting to do whatever they could to stay out of jail? Would you voluntarily serve a year?

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How do you know he's not in agony over this? Geez all these perfect people out here with there comments!

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In the story that Adam posted (scroll up) it contains a verbatim quote from the victim's statement.

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The average 20 year driver believes themselves to be so infallible as to be immune to crashes, let alone fatal ones. Do you really think they have any idea exactly how many years they will go to jail for killing someone with their car? The length of the penalty is basically irrelevant in terms of deterrence. Education, infrastructure changes and the availability of alternative forms of transportation are really the only meaningful ways to cut down on road deaths. The rest is just pandering.

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in jail sounds like one of the worst possible things that could happen to me. Not saying he should have received more or less time, but I can't think of anything that I'd risk spending a year behind bars for.

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Plenty of people don't care at all. But there is a reason why someone might think smashing a car widow to steal a GPS is worth the possible punishment but they wouldn't hold up a bank or stab someone to take their wallet.

This kid paralyzed two people and nearly paralyzed two others. To me that's worse then death. Yet the punishment he got was as serious as petty theft.

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but the length of sentence really isn't going to be a deterrent for these types of accidents. Teenagers think they're invincible and "it won't happen to me." The death penalty hasn't stopped people from murdering.

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I agree there is little difference between 10 years in jail and 20 years in jail or even death as a plenty. But plenty of people take a crime which could net them 10 years in jail more seriously then something which would only be 1-2 years.

Look at drunk driving: If the punishment was 5 years in jail (1st offense) a whole lot more people would be switching to coffee as their last few drinks. Drunk driving would still happen but not as often. Or the flip side: If murder was 1-2 years in jail plenty of people would take the risk to knock off someone they hate.

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This is just not true. Very few people get in a car thinking "I know I'm drunk, but the penalty isn't THAT bad." After all, one possible penalty of driving you car while drunk is KILLING YOURSELF. The only policy decisions that have really caused an appreciable reduction in drunk driving are education (about the dangers of doing it in the first place) and increasing the availability of transportation alternatives (guess what! Drunk driving is less common in areas with trains and taxis!)

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This was an accident but a preventable one. Hopefully it will cause parents everywhere to Keep kid's access to the car limited and supervised. Teenagers are immature and make stupid decisions. driving with a carload of other teens texting screaming partying was something most of us have probably done in our youth - this episode turned into a tragic nightmare. A civil lawsuit is probably in the works - but unlike a bank robbery or theft where there is an intent to do harm this is a case of dumb reckless behavior by a child. I hope the families suffering as a result find peace and some financial remedy from Mr Papadopolous that can ease some of their pain.

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This was not an accident. Accidents are by definition coincidental and unavoidable (believers might call them acts of god). This was a crash that was caused by decisions made by the child driving the vehicle.

Makes me glad we trust kids to drive motor vehicles 5 to 6 years before we trust them to have a beer. /s

Read about why language matters here: http://crashnotaccident.com/

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That definition of "accident" is totally made up. Every dictionary definition of "accident" focuses on intent. Legally, the concept of "accident" is broken down into the concepts of responsibility, liability, negligence, intent, and other things.

Nowhere is "accident" exactly the same as "acts of god".

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Unavoidable? Practically everything is avoidable, including "acts of god." For instance, it's difficult to be struck by lightning if you avoid ever leaving the house. Language matters.

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Between cause and correlation.
Being struck by lighting is correlated to, but not caused by leaving the house.
Crashing into another car and injuring two people for life is caused by an active decision to drive recklessly.
Therefore the latter is no accident, unless you're willing to just accept it as a whoopsie.

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I never said lightning strikes were caused by leaving the house. I said they could be AVOIDED by NOT doing so.

Leaving the house is a necessary but not sufficient condition for being struck by lightning.

This is a very simple statement of logic that makes no claims about causation whatsoever.

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Point here being that using the term accident implies something that "just happens" (like being hit by lightning) and is therefore unavoidable under under normal circumstances.
Using the word crash or collision on the other hand implies an event that was caused by someone's choice of action (speeding on a windy narrow road, outrunning your headlights at night, not looking where you're going) and therefore could have been more or less easily avoided.

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Crash or collision does not imply any blame, just that an event occurred.

On the other hand, in general, I think that one can look at an accident, see where, if something had been done differently, it would not have happened. As a mild example, I spilled a cup of Coke on me the other day. It was on the table and somehow my hand smacked up against it. I didn't intend to do it, but if I was paying more attention, it would not have happened.

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What comments did this jackass have to say about the BPD? Wouldn't this be a State PD investigation? I know it's cool to blame cops for everything these days, but I'm curious as to what his exact comments where.

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Boston cops are often first on the scene of bad crashes in Boston - that was the case with the car that flipped over on VFW Parkway in West Roxbury the other day.

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The truck driver who killed and then continued to drive off, a woman in Kenmore Sq didn't even get a ticket, so I guess for Boston a year is pretty tough. If he had swerved into pedestrians or bicyclists he would be free now. Lesson learned.

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Are you referring to the (fairly) recent incident on Mass Ave in Back Bay? Or another one?

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I don't have any reason to disagree with this conviction. That said, the thing this guy actually did was to drive 20 miles over the speed limit. That's a bad thing, but it's not DUI or playing "chicken" or something really unusual. There are probably 500 people on the pike driving 20 miles over the limit right now, and shame on them. But what caused this terrible accident is not just that this fellow was driving over the limit, but that the Arborway is a tremendously dangerous piece of roadway and it needs to be fixed. Roadways have to be designed with more fault tolerance than that.

Is a one year sentence appropriate? He should go to jail, yes, but I don't want to pay to keep this guy in jail for ten years, and doing that will not make the people injured by the crash whole. And the truth is that we could hang this guy from a tree on Boston Common, and even then there would continue to be very bad accidents on the Arborway, because it's inherently just too dangerous. Sending people to the House of Correction for driving recklessly is sometimes necessary, but it's not an adequate substitute for proper engineering.

[Response: "So in your mind this guy didn't do anything wrong?" Fer chrissake no, pls learn to read thx.]

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but I don't want to pay to keep this guy in jail for ten years, and doing that will not make the people injured by the crash whole.

It's OK, they can use my tax dollars.

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over the speed limit? I've read estimates where the driver was going 80 MPH, which is 50 miles over the speed limit.

It's not the road that is the problem here--it was the speed of the car's driver. The Arborway is not a highway. (And the accident didn't occur in a tricky curvy stretch of road, like you see on the Jamaicaway between Perkins and Huntington.)

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He was driving at 50 mph which is 20 mph over the speed limit. Have you never driven faster than the speed limit?

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50mph when the speed limit is 30mph, on a curvy, narrow-laned road, is a hell of a lot different than going 85mph in a 65mph stretch of open highway.

Do you fail to see the difference?

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50 mph on the arborway is, I'd say, worse than 80 mph on Comm Ave.

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80mph on Comm. Ave. will kill people -- Comm. Ave. is shared by cyclists and there are people crossing the Comm. Ave. on foot as well.

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I was going by the Globe report on the trial. If this driver were really driving 80 mph on the Arborway, that's an extreme level of recklessness and there's no way you could build an urban road to mitigate that.

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2 people paralyzed for life and the wreckless driver gets 1 year in jail. Now that's justice!

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Actually, the guy's going to jail because he wasn't "wreckless." Badum-tish.

(Personally, I can't wait until we actually do something about our street designs and legal system prioritizing getting drivers quickly to their destination over the safety of all people, in cars or not, trying to get somewhere. These wheels of justice feel pretty damned Sisyphean at the rate they're turning.)

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You want to seriously hurt or kill someone, do it with a car.

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