Family of teen killed in hit-and-run furious after driver, 20, AVOIDS jail in plea deal

Devesh Samtani and his cousin, Kabir Kurani, were walking along the road when Daniel Campbell struck him from behind

Family of teen killed in hit-and-run furious after driver, 20, AVOIDS jail in plea deal
Driver Daniel Campbell (R) fled the scene after hitting Devesh 'Devu' Samtani (L) (Legacy Of Devesh/Facebook and NBC New York video screenshot)
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THE HAMPTONS, NEW YORK: The cousin of a boy, 18, who died in the Hamptons a year ago in a hit-and-run, has blasted his killer who got off scot-free with no jail time under a plea agreement. Speeding driver Daniel Campbell, 20, fled the scene after hitting Devesh 'Devu' Samtani on Old Stone Highway in Amagansett on August 10, 2021. Samtani died three days after the crash. Campbell had nine people in his 2012 Honda Pilot at the time, including his younger sister. When police arrested Campbell at his Montauk home, he said, "Yes, I hit the guy. He was in the road though, I know I should have stayed but I freaked out. To be 100 percent honest with you guys, when I looked at the damage I thought I killed him."

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Samtani and his cousin, Kabir Kurani, were walking along the road when Campbell struck him from behind. "I was screaming and yelling for someone to call 911," Kurani recalled, narrating how his cousin lay bleeding and unconscious on the road. "When Campbell hit Devu, he chose to leave him there to die. He chose to hide, instead of helping the boy he just struck."

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Campbell has now pleaded guilty to a felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident and causing Samtani's death. However, he will serve zero time in jail under a plea deal with Suffolk County Judge Richard Ambro. Instead, he will complete community service and five years probation and be formally sentenced on September 22.

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Campbell's attorney, Edward Burke Jr., told the Daily Mail, "Mr. Campbell has always taken responsibility for his actions. He has always wanted to express his since apology for the family. He will be addressing the victim's family at the court on September 22 and that is something he has wanted to do since day one."

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Samtani was an incoming NYU student and had arrived in the US from Hong Kong just days before the tragedy. His family is now enraged. "He killed my cousin. I am angry. I am devastated that Campbell may face no real consequences for his actions, while my family will face the loss of Devu for the rest of our lives," Kurani said. 

"The car hit him so hard. He flipped high in the air, hit the ground, hit his head and died," Kurani recalled, adding, "They were keeping him until I got to the hospital. We were pushing our luck hoping that some miracle would happen but we knew." He added, "I told him to please come back. I told him that everyone is here for him and waiting for him. I told him that everyone loves him, but he never came back."

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Samtani's mother, Mala, said the family was "completely broken" by the judge's decision. "It's not just my youngest son Devu that has been killed, but my whole family has been shattered. We are lost and it has impacted us in a very deep way," Mala said. "It's painful and shocking to think that Daniel Campbell will never serve jail time for his crime, as it portrays that my son’s life did not matter. He appeared to have no empathy, remorse, and humanity to help my child. Had the witness not taken a picture of his license plate, we would have never known who had killed my son Devu."

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Seeing Samtani in the casket at his funeral is an image Mala said she will never forget. "The pain that my family goes through is so immense that it cannot be defined in words. It’s like I must walk with a heavy sharp rock scraping me on my back till my last breath," she said. "I always believed that in America there is fair justice, but I am shocked at the system here, that I always trusted the most," she added. "Last year it was my son, tomorrow it could be someone else's child."

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Samtani's father, Kishore Samtani, was out of the country when he learned about the accident. It took him over 36 hours to get to his bedside at Stonybrook University Hospital. "We are asking for at least six months so the boy can think about what his actions cost our whole family," he said of Campbell. 

Campbell said in the accident report, "The Honda Pilot seats eight people so everyone was able to fit in the car. There are three seats in the middle and three seats in the third row in the back. When they got in we all talked for a few minutes and they were trying to figure out where to go. Nothing conclusive was determined so we just started driving."

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"At first I just thought this kid just bumped into my car and hit my mirror so I didn’t think it was anything serious. I got out of my car and could see the front passenger headlight was cracked and there was some damage to the front passenger side of the vehicle,' he said in the accident report," he added. "My sister was extremely upset and quiet. While I was on the side of the road I started getting alerts on my phone about a kid that was in critical condition after getting hit by a car. That was confirmation for me about what really happened. I was in disbelief because I didn’t think the kid was actually hurt. I started getting those snapchat alerts after being on the side of the road for about five minutes."

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He said, "My heart started beating really fast and I think I started to have a panic attack. I wasn't thinking clearly and didn't know what to do. I've been in car accidents in the past before, but never involved in an accident where someone got hurt."

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