Hit-and-run driver to serve 12 years - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Hit-and-run driver to serve 12 years

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Christopher Thomas (Provided by from Lubbock County Sheriff's Office) Christopher Thomas (Provided by from Lubbock County Sheriff's Office)
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

The family of a teenage hit-and-run victim says justice has been served.

The driver of the truck that hit Ashton Cerka, 20, in Lubbock's depot district pled guilty in a plea hearing Tuesday morning.

Christopher Thomas, 28, was sentenced to 12 years on a total of four charges.

He pled guilty to Aggravated Assault, failure to stop and render aid, and two previous DWI charges.

Thomas won't be eligible for parole until he's served six years.

Cerka continues to recover from his traumatic brain injury.

The prosecutor in the case said he appreciates Thomas taking responsibility for his actions almost a year ago. The taxpayers won't have to spend the money on a trial.

It was an emotional day for both sides Tuesday morning.

"The night that he hit him basically he turned him into a newborn baby again," said Ashton Cerka's mother, Stacey Collins.

Still not able to walk on his own, Cerka and his family left the courtroom with some sense of closure.

"He feels justice has been served," Collins said.

Christopher Thomas had nothing to say as he was escorted out. His father offered his condolences to the Cerka family.

"It's unfortunate that this happened and I'm sorry for the grief for the family," said Earnest Thomas.

Both sides have concerns that will linger far beyond Tuesday's plea.

The Cerka family is suing The Library, a bar in the depot district, accusing them of over-serving Thomas before the accident.

"Even if it's not meant on purpose, bad things happen when you drink and get behind the wheel," Collins said.

Tests reveal that Cerka had been drinking that night, too. He had consumed nearly three times the legal limit for an adult.

Thomas' family says they're angry that someone would serve an underage teen.

"If they're going to serve underage people drinking, then there's something wrong with the law, and we all need to sit down and work together and get it corrected," Thomas said.

Ashton is still on the road to recovery.

"He had to learn to hold his head. He had to learn to eat, walk, talk, write," Collins said.

Ashton's recovery will take several more months, and his family hopes he'll be able to walk on his own very soon.

Collins has this message for anyone else who ever finds themselves in Thomas' position.

"Everybody makes mistakes. I know he did not mean to intentionally hit Ashton, but nothing is worth leaving a human being on the side of the road when you are perfectly capable of helping him," she said.

KCBD NewsChannel 11 checked on the latest on the civil suit against The Library, but documents don't show the defendants even submitting a response to the claim.

Stay with kcbd.com for updates on this story.

Copyright 2012 KCBD NewsChannel 11

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