'I'm So Very Sorry': Driver in Arlington Hit-and-Run Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison - NBC4 Washington

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'I'm So Very Sorry': Driver in Arlington Hit-and-Run Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison



    Drunk Driver Who Injured 2 Men Apologizes in Court

    News4 Northern Virginia Bureau Reporter David Culver reports on a emotional day in court Friday, as an Arlington woman was sentenced to 10 years in prison for hitting two men with her car while drunk and then fleeing. (Published Friday, Sept. 18, 2015)

    A drunk woman who ran over two men with her car in Arlington earlier this year, leaving them with severe injuries, was sentenced on Friday to 10 years in prison and apologized in court to the victims.

    Alexandra Mendez, then 39, crashed on Jan. 27 into several parked cars at the MK Auto Sales and Service dealership on the 3600 block of Columbia Pike. Two men, Noor Mustafa Shaikh and Hamid Arif, tried to stop her, but she gunned the car, ran over both men and sped away, police and the victims said.

    Disturbing cell phone video played in court showed Mendez drive over the two men. The incident also was captured on surveillance video.

    Mendez’s lawyer, Mark Cummings, said his client -- who police found and arrested the following day -- didn’t realize she had hurt anybody.

    "I think she was in a panic mode," he said. "I think the alcohol didn’t help. She admitted to having five or six drinks. She’s got a history of untreated depression and alcoholism."

    Shaikh was in critical condition; a search warrant showed rescuers had to resuscitate him not once, but twice. In tearful hysterics in court on Friday, he stood up to tell the judge what he’s been through.

    "I'm completely broken; I want to die," he said.

    Shaikh said he has more than $800,000 in medical bills, with which is family is still seeking help. He said he is struggling to provide for his wife and their three children.

    In a break from usual court procedure, Mendez asked Chief Judge William Newman if she could look at the victims.

    Mendez turned around and tearfully told the men, "I think about you every day ... I think about your pain and the way your life has changed ... I'm so very sorry."

    Her lawyer said he thought the 10-year sentence was fair. Mendez had previously faced 53 years behind bars. Cummings said his client wanted the opportunity to apologize to the men she hurt.

    "It was the only opportunity she’d have to really address them, and I think she wanted to reach out to express her sorrow for the great harm she’s done," he said.

    Mendez previously was arrested for drunk driving, in May 2014. Her license was suspended after she was convicted of reckless driving, according to court documents.