Amy DeGise took an oath to uphold the law

Dear Editor:

To the City Council President and City Council Members:

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I sit here today reading about the accident involving Ms. DeGise and Mr. Black and feel compelled to write you regarding my own experience involving a hit skip incident.

In 2019 my husband was taking his daily bike ride in our small city. He was in the bike lane, wearing bright colored clothing, a helmet, and flashing lights on the front and back of his bike. It was broad daylight. He was struck from behind by a driver. He did not survive his injuries. I will not go into detail about my husband and the manner in which he lived his life. Suffice to say he was an honest, kind, generous, loving man with more integrity than anyone I’ve known. We had been married 45 years and met when we were 16. We have two children and three grandchildren.

The driver who struck him never stopped. It was only thanks to another driver who witnessed this that the driver, Sharan Carr, was stopped by police further down the road. She was drunk. Video footage found shortly after the crash revealed she was speeding (@50mph in a 35 zone that had just changed from a 25 mph zone only three houses prior to the crash site).

Ms. Carr pleaded not guilty. I met with the Prosecutor and advised him I would support the lightest sentence possible if she came forward and pleaded guilty and took responsibility for her actions. I wanted to honor the way my husband lived his life. Revenge was never part of his being and he ALWAYS owned his actions. Ms. Carr never owned her actions. Instead, we had to spend several months looking at video of the crash, reading police reports, and discussing a plea offer vs a trial. The emotional impact on my family was horrific at the time. We finally made a plea offer we could live with and at that time Ms. Carr changed her plea to guilty.

In Ohio the sentence could be from a minimum of 2 years to a max of 8. We offered 3.5 years with no early release and she accepted it. One year into her sentence Ms. Carr requested early release from the court because it was really hard to be locked up with criminals (her words). Fortunately, her request was denied but the wound was reopened for us as we waited for the court’s decision.

This incident was not an “accident” as Ms. Carr kept calling it. It was criminal conduct. It was a crash that could be avoided. But she would not own her actions. She did not take responsibility for her actions. And that was the worse part of all of this for my family. We constantly wondered how a so called good citizen would not take responsibility and instead cause us further pain by forcing us to either go to trial or offer a plea. That wasn’t how we lived our lives. I am sharing this with you because I believe our society has lost focus on owning our actions and what “taking responsibility” truly means.

We allow bad decisions to be ignored and thus responsibility to be avoided or even disposed. When you serve at the will of the people who voted for you do you not take an oath and agree to uphold the law? Are there not consequences when that oath is broken? Does your State or City code have rules which lay out how illegal behavior /acts can be dealt with?

I am not writing to dispute who was at fault for the incident, but I am stating that the leaving the scene action of Ms. DeGise was in violation of law and as such she has ignored her responsibility to uphold the law. Her action to leave the scene of a crash displays poor judgement and more so, poor character. Certainly not someone who should be paid by the public taxpayers who are held to the same laws.

If Ms. DeGise refuses to step down, the council members should seek to have her removed. Not doing so is saying that you council members condone her behavior and that you too would take the same action and leave the scene. If Mr. Black was severely injured or died from injuries sustained would you still stand back and not take action to remove Ms. DeGise? Are you all afraid to stand up and do what is right? If so, then I am glad not to be a citizen of Jersey City.

Patricia Knilans

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