A 24-year-old woman charged in the May crash in Skokie that claimed the life of a 8-year-old boy sobbed and asked forgiveness in court this morning before she was sentenced to 5 years in prison.
Hanin Goma, of the 5000 block of Wright Terrace in Skokie, pleaded guilty in February to a felony count of aggravated driving under the influence resulting in death, and a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence of drugs related to the May 22 crash that killed Carter Vo of Skokie.
"I want to express my deepest condolences," Goma said in court, addressing the Vo family. "I can only imagine what you guys are going through. I am so sorry this unfortunate accident happened."
But a prosecutor and Cook County Circuit Court Judge Lauren Gottainer Edidin said Carter’s death could not be called an "accident," because Goma admitted to smoking marijuana on the day the boy died.
"These are the most tragic cases we get as judges," Edidin said. "I don't see it as an accident. I see it as a traffic crash."
Assistant State's Atty. Catherine Crowley had even harsher words, saying that Goma had failed to attend court-ordered drug school following her arrest for possession of cannabis in an earlier case. She also said Goma had violated the terms of her bond in the Vo case by drinking alcohol.
"Those tears are more heartfelt for herself, than the boy she killed," Crowley said, calling Goma "selfish at heart."
Investigators say Goma was driving from her job as a cashier at the Grecian Kitchen on May 22 when she turned left onto Main Street in Skokie from St. Louis Avenue, striking an eastbound van and causing her car to spin over the median and land on the northeast corner sidewalk, where Carter was riding his bike.
They said Goma’s car pushed the bike across St. Louis Avenue, where it continued to slide until it hit a parked car. The second grader at Madison Elementary School in Skokie died at the scene.
Carter's father, Nhu Vo, has waited for months to address the woman who killed his only son. During this morning’s hearing, he said he visits his son's grave every day to pray and burn incense.
"I talk to my son," he said.
"He never came home that day," Vo said as he sobbed in the courtroom. "My son was my life. He was my greatest accomplishment. We all died that day."
Vo, overcome with emotion, was unable to finish his statement.
Crowley also described Carter as a bright and loving boy with a wide smile that filled a room.
"She caused that smile to be extinguished," Crowley said.
In addition to the 5 year prison term, Goma was also sentenced to 2 years of probation and fines and fees of $3,319.