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Hit and Run Driver Sent to Jail, Victim Hoped for Stiffer Sentence

SCRANTON -- A man who hit and seriously injured a Scranton DPW worker more than a year ago was sentenced Monday in Lackawanna County court.

Maxwell Hatala, 25, of Old Forge, was sentenced to nine to 18 months in jail and seven years of probation.

In February, Hatala pleaded guilty to a number of charges including accidents involving serious injury and insurance fraud.

The victim, Scranton Department of Public Works employee Steve Pierson was in the courtroom Monday alongside friends and family.

Pierson wanted more than the nine-to-18-month sentence for the man who hit him in November 2015, but he left the courthouse with a smile on his face, walking alongside his daughter and other family members.

"It is what it is," said Pierson. "It's over with. He'll do some time and hopefully, you learn from this and move on."

Hatala admitted to being at an all-night drinking party before hitting the garbage truck Pierson was working on, pinning Pierson's legs underneath. Hatala then drove off and crashed his car on purpose to cover up the wreck.

"Why'd you leave me?" Pierson asked. "You hurt me. I couldn't do anything. You pretty much left me for dead."

Several of Pierson's family members were at the sentencing, including his mother who spoke in court.

"It wasn't easy, but we're glad I have my son, not what he used to be, but I have him," said Suzanne Pierson.

Alongside Pierson's family was the man driving the garbage truck. Pierson says without him, he wouldn't be alive.

Ray Boynton saw what happened on cameras inside the truck and released the brakes to set Pierson free.

"My second family, the DPW guys," said Pierson. "We look out for each other. When something like this happens, you want to be there for each other as much as you can."

Pierson lost three arteries and 3/4 of an inch from his leg but he says he feels lucky to be alive.

"All the surgeries he had and the pure pain he was in, and he never once complained. I call him my hero," Suzanne added.

Hatala did write an apology letter to Pierson.

"He made a mistake. He's going to pay some consequences now and for the rest of his life. He owned up and he took the responsibility," said defense attorney Joe D'Andrea.

The judge received 27 character letters in support of Hatala.

In addition to the jail time and seven years of probation, he will also have to pay a fine of $1,900.

8 comments

  • LLOYD SCHMUCATELLI

    Wow they want to execute Frein who’s an innocent man but this guy gets next to nothing for a crime he actually committed. Set Frein free! Send this guy instead

  • Bill K

    Central Pennsylvania. Where we tell all the kids “Don’t drink and drive!” then everyone turns around and does just that. If we were serious Mr. Hatala would have been forced to pay Mr. Pierson $1000 a month for the rest of his life. Enforced by the court. And if he runs out of state, the court would track him down and continue garnishment. That would be a fair compensation for the injured and fair punishment. OK, you’re gonna say he’ll never get a job then and live off welfare. Fine. Garnish his welfare the same amount. Can’t go on welfare? Well then Mr. Hatala has to work it off somehow. Dig ditches, rake leaves, shovel snow, cut down trees, pick up trash on Mr. Pierson’s property….I could find lots to keep him busy a long, long time.

  • JustMe

    People that steal a loaf of bread to feed there children get more time then that. The judicial system is a joke.

    • Kraven Morehead

      That actually is not true. If it’s a first offense it’s only a summary violation. The equivalent of a criminal traffic ticket. The more you know…

  • shagtastique

    He made a mistake D’Andrea you dirtball? WRONG. As usual, lawyers are lying through their slithering forked tongue. Forgetting to carry th2 while adding some numbers is making a mistake. Buying skim milk instead of 2% is making a mistake. Getting off at exit 170a instead of 170b is making a mistake. Going to an all-night drinking party, getting into your car drunk, driving your car drunk, hitting a human being in your car, leaving the scene of the accident, and crashing the car again in order to cover it up is NOT making a mistake, but rather acting as nearly an odiferous pit of sewage as the lawyer who has the utter lack of conscience to flip off a casual “he made a mistake”.

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