Family Relieved Hit-and-Run Driver Surrendered

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LAKE TWP., Ohio— A suspect in a hit-and-run accident turned himself in to Lake Twp. Police on Monday night after seeing Fox 8's coverage of the accident, which included pictures of the victim in her hospital bed.

Investigators said James Knappenberger, 19, of North Canton, was arrested on a felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident.

Sgt. Mike Batchik told Fox 8, "He stated that he didn't realize how serious the situation was the night that it happened, and then when he saw the picture of her and how it was, he obviously realized the seriousness of the incident."

The accident happened on Saturday night, when Cynthia Hernandez, 23, was struck by Knappenberger's car as she was attempting to cross Mount Pleasant Street outside Uniontown.

Hernandez's husband, who has been at her side as doctors at Aultman Hospital in Canton treat her for a variety of broken bones and lacerations, said the family is relieved that James Knappenberger turned himself in.

"I don't know if his conscience told him to get inside to the police, or if it came because of the news and he starts to be afraid, he doesn't know what to do," said Noam Tal.

James Knappenberger told investigators that he was afraid that his fiancee, who was a passenger in his car, would be deported back to her native Nicaragua, if police discovered she was not a U.S. citizen.

Ironically, police said it appears Cynthia Hernandez caused the accident, and that Knappenberger probably wouldn't have been charged with a crime, if he had remained at the scene.

"Most likely the accident report reads that she was a pedestrian that walked out in front of his vehicle and he struck her, and it's a horrible accident," said Sgt. Batchik.

If convicted of leaving the scene, James Knappenberger could face up to one year in prison.

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