NEWARK, Calif. (BCN) - A 20-year-old Newark man was sentenced today to five years' felony probation, including one year in the county jail, for causing the death of a friend by driving too fast and losing control of his pickup truck in a crash in unincorporated Fremont last year.
Austin Strong recently pleaded on contest to vehicular manslaughter for the death of 19-year-old Karan Lomesh on Palomares Road in unincorporated Fremont at about 9 p.m. on April 20, 2015, and was sentenced by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Dan Grimmer today.
Authorities said Lomesh was one of three passengers who were with Strong when Strong was driving a 1994 Mazda pickup on southbound Palomares Road at about 50 mph, twice the posted speed limit of 25 mph and couldn't negotiate a curve.
Police said the pickup came to rest on its roof at the bottom of a gully 30 feet from the road.
Lomesh, who wasn't wearing a seatbelt, and another passenger who was with him in the bed of the truck were ejected. The third passenger was riding with Strong in the truck's cab section.
Lomesh was declared dead at the scene but the other passenger who was ejected survived.
The California Highway Patrol said alcohol and drugs were not involved in the crash.
Lomesh's sister, 23-year-old Riti Lomesh, staged a 19-day hunger strike to call attention to Strong's case and seek a state prison term for
Strong, who works as an assistant manager at a theater company and has no
prior criminal record.
She sat outside the office of Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley on the ninth floor of the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse during much of her hunger strike, which she ended on Monday.
Strong's attorney, Louis Goodman, said he believes Strong's sentence was "a fair disposition" and is consistent with other vehicular manslaughter cases in which the defendant didn't have a prior record and wasn't under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Goodman said Strong, Lomesh and the other two passengers "were all good friends" and Strong is remorseful for Lomesh's death.
Goodman said the sentence imposed by Grimmer means that Strong, who had been free on bail but was handcuffed and taken to jail after his hearing, will have to serve a full year in the county jail because he won't receive any half-time credits for good behavior.