A drunk driver who crashed into a car full of schoolgirls, leaving one brain-damaged, has been sentenced to at least 15 years in a US prison.
Hane Brolly (25), who was in the United States illegally and driving without a license, was fleeing Northern Ireland for similar drunk driving offenses at the time of last year’s horrific accident.
The carpenter from Dungiven, County Londonderry, was sentenced to between 15 and 30 years in prison during a two-hour hearing at the Bucks County Justice Center in Pennsylvania this week.
He had previously pleaded guilty to a variety of felonies, including aggravated assault by a vehicle while driving under the influence causing an injury accident.
All four girls had to be removed from their car in the March 2021 crash caused by Brolly. She had downed 22 drinks before getting behind the wheel of a pickup truck.
One of the students in the car he collided with sustained brain damage, while the other three suffered life-changing injuries as a result of the crash. During Brolly’s sentencing hearing Thursday, Judge Jeffrey Finley ordered him to serve between three and six years for each of the five most serious counts in the indictment.
He also said Brolly was a “lucky man” that no one was killed in the crash and ordered that the sentences be served consecutively, meaning Brolly must serve a minimum of 15 years behind bars.
He was also ordered to pay more than $62,000 in restitution to two of the girls and three people in a second car involved in the crash.
Judge Finley said: “Mr. Brolly, you are a lucky man. You are one lucky man not facing numerous vehicular manslaughter charges. To think about the phone call that each of these families received, then what they went through, not for a couple of days but for months.”
When asked if he had anything to say to the victims, Brolly “apologized to the girls in a thick accent that was barely audible,” according to local reports.
“I made a mistake. I’m very, very sorry,” he added. Brolly, who had traveled to the United States on an Irish passport, was living in the United States and had been in the country for just under two years at the time of the accident, according to authorities. .
He was living in Pennsylvania illegally on an expired work visa when the accident occurred and only had a revoked UK driver’s license. He was also a wanted man in Northern Ireland at the time of the accident after fleeing to the US in 2019 before he could be sentenced for similar DUI offenses.
During earlier hearings in Bucks County court, a judge was told how Brolly was drunk behind the wheel of his cousin’s truck that crossed a central reservation line in March 2021 and crashed into an oncoming car.
He was hospitalized with serious injuries that required emergency surgery. However, his victims, all 17 at the time, fared much worse. One suffered brain damage and each endured life-threatening conditions that changed their lives and will continue to require medical attention and rehabilitation.
Brolly was almost three times over the legal limit. He had spent the day drinking while playing golf before visiting two pubs, and later he was so drunk that a barman refused to serve him any more.
Despite pleas from his friends not to drive home and the offer of one to pay for a cab, Brolly got behind the wheel of the truck. This was after he texted his cousin, who owned the vehicle, telling her that he was too drunk to drive.
Brolly’s reckless behavior mirrors his actions in Northern Ireland before fleeing to the US.
He was due to be sentenced at Coleraine Magistrates Court for drunk driving in October 2019, but did not show up because he was in the US. On this occasion, a drunk Brolly led police on a 114 mph chase through the countryside from Co Londonderry which lasted 16 miles. He was only caught when police deployed a stinger device across the road.