Brianna Nikole Sandoval was sentenced to three years of probation and 400 hours of community service on Thursday for the February 2016 hit-and-run of a prominent Fresno doctor. She also agreed to create a video blog about her experience during a rare instance of mediation and restorative justice in the Fresno County Superior Court, said her attorney, Daniel Bacon.
Dr. William Dominic, who heads the burn center at Community Regional Medical Center, was in the courtroom Thursday to give a statement to Judge Dennis Peterson. Police say Dominic, an avid cyclist, was riding home from Community Regional Medical Center about 1 a.m. on Feb. 26, 2016, when Sandoval hit him on Holland Avenue and North Fresno Street.
Many people will feel it’s too lenient. I’m a voice for other people who have sustained injuries like this.
Dr. William Dominic
Dominic sustained a broken pelvis and ribs, a spinal fracture and a crushed leg. He required extensive time in the hospital to recover. Sandoval fled the scene in a tan Toyota Camry, police said.
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Dominic told the judge on Thursday that incarceration wouldn’t change Sandoval’s life in the way that community service, a psychological evaluation and probation would. He acknowledged the seriousness of the crime, but said the punishment was just. “The injuries I sustained could have just as easily ended my career or my life,” he said. “Many people will feel it’s too lenient. I’m a voice for other people who have sustained injuries like this,” the doctor said.
Sandoval, 24, is prepping to begin her 400 hours of community service at Community Regional Medical Center, said Bacon. She is also going through a 12-step program, will pay a $600 fine and has agreed not to drive for a year, Bacon said.
In her YouTube video, posted on June 8, Sandoval says she fell asleep at the wheel after leaving the Fulton 55, and believed she hit a trash can. Police said she had consumed two beers and a mixed drink at the nightclub. Following her arrest, police Chief Jerry Dyer said evidence at her apartment revealed that Sandoval had a “severe drinking problem.”
It wasn’t until Sandoval saw news coverage of the crash that she realized what she had done, she says in her video. She realizes she caused pain and suffering to Dominic and his family. She admitted to the hit-and-run in June 2016, when detectives confronted her at work. “In that moment, I felt a huge weight of relief off my shoulders,” she says in the video about being arrested.
Dominic and Sandoval sat down to mediation months ago, as a form of restorative justice. Bacon said although mediation is often followed in juvenile court, it’s rare that adults use it. “It should be used more often to bring victims and the accused together,” he said. “I think it should be used more in these types of cases. Both sides can heal from it.”