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Guilty plea in deadly hit-and-run in Scranton

Thomas Gill faces mandatory minimum sentence

SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) - A Scranton man is facing mandatory prison time after admitting Wednesday morning to a deadly crash in Lackawanna County.

Thomas Gill pleaded guilty in connection with a hit-and-run nearly two years ago.

When Scranton police arrested Gill in August 2016, they say he admitted snorting heroin, sniffing cocaine and smoking marijuana before getting behind the wheel.

Investigators say Gill hit a 26-year-old father who was riding his bicycle to go and see his young son.

Family and friends wore special t-shirts to the Lackawanna County courthouse for the guilty plea.

The message was a strong one: impaired driving is never an accident.

Family members have been looking for justice for their son and brother.

"To me, murder is murder, vehicular or not. No matter what kind of time it is -- Mike is gone forever. That's our loss," Joseph Keller, the victim's father said.

The victim, Michael Harmer, was 26 years old. He was a young father.

Friends say on August 28, 2016, he was riding his bicycle on South Main Avenue in West Scranton to go see his six-month-old son at the time, when he was hit by the vehicle driven by Thomas Gill.

Gill's vehicle crossed the center line of traffic and even went up onto a curb.

Gill left the scene but was later tracked down by police.

Gill reportedly told investigators he had heroine, marijuana and cocaine in his system.

While infuriating to some, the victim's father knows the struggle of recovery.

"I want to separate the addict from the person but no matter what, that man, Thomas Gill is the one that killed my son. My son was doing the right thing. He was selfish in his actions," Keller said.

Because of his guilty plea, Thomas Gill will spend at least three years in state prison.

One of the charges he pleaded guilty to, accidents involving death, has a Kevin's Law enhancement.

The statue, passed by state lawmakers in 2014, sets a mandatory minimum sentence for someone who leave the scene of a deadly crash while under the influence.

Lackawanna County's new district attorney says he intends to use Kevin's Law whenever possible.

"It should send a clear message to everyone that if they're going to flee the scene of an accident, we're going to impose Kevin's Law and we're going to pursue it aggressively," Lackawanna County District Attorney Mark Powell said.

Thomas Gill pleaded guilty to a total of three charges.

While he faces the mandatory minimum sentence of at least three years in prison, he could face a maximum of 17 years behind bars.

A sentencing date has not yet been set.

 


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