JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The father of a Jacksonville teenager who was severely injured when hit by a drug dealer’s car in 2017 said the family finally go some justice Wednesday when the dealer was sentenced in a federal courtroom.
Charles Samara said his son, Daniel, was walking to work after school when Marion Walker, a known drug dealer, ran into a car then hit the teenager, throwing him through a fence and into a retention pond. Daniel had broken bones, collapsed lungs, head trauma and more, spending most of the rest of that year in a hospital.
Federal Judge Harvey Schlesinger sentenced Walker to 24 years and five months in prison for conspiracy to distribute cocaine and heroin charges. The sentence is several more years than the 15-year minimum.
Before the sentence was announced, Daniel’s father read a letter from his son in court and Walker apologized, saying it was an accident that he regrets.
Charles Sarama said the apology was not enough for almost killing his son.
"He ran the boy over and was more worried about escaping and fighting with the police," Sarama said. "He knew he hit that child. He left him to die so, to me, he still didn’t get enough -- but it’s satisfactory."
Federal prosecutor Julie Hackenberry told News4Jax there were originally state charges against Walker, 49, for hitting then Samara, but those were dropped so he could be prosecuted in federal court.
"We intended from the outset to include what happened to Daniel Samara as an aggravating factor the court should consider in fashioning an appropriate sentence – which the court did," Hackenberry said in an e-mail to News4Jax.
Although he wishes Walker would have also faced charges for hitting his son, Chares Sarama said he’s happy Daniel was acknowledged in court.
"I think that he finally got some recognition that somebody had done something to him and that’s going to take a load off of him because, for a long while, there was nothing," he said. "I finally brought it up today in court and, yeah, it made me a lot happier that finally something is happening to the guy for what he did to that young child. The kid has to live with that the whole rest of his life the pain and everything from it."
Daniel Sarama became a father shortly after the accident, which has been a blessing to their family. An uphill battle remains for Daniel, but at least they can put this part of the fight behind them.
The father said he and his son are ready to put this behind them and move forward with their lives.