Daniel Campbell Hamptons hit and run driver sentenced 90 days jail after mowing NYU student Devesh Samtani as questions are asked how ‘menace driver’ avoided more serious punishment.
A case of coming from an elite untouchable family…? A hit-and-run driver with a history of driving infractions who mowed down an 18-year-old in the Hamptons last summer was on Thursday sentenced to just three months jails despite the teenager’s family pleading with a judge to give him jail time.
Daniel Campbell, 20, fatally struck Devesh ‘Devu’ Samtani with his Honda Pilot on Old Stone Highway in Amagansett on August 10, 2021 with such force that he was thrown six-feet into the air. At the time, Campbell had nine other people in his car.
Samtani who hailed from Hong Kong was killed shortly before he planned to enroll at New York University. At the time of being struck, the teen was walking along the highway after having left a party.
Campbell had been labeled a ‘driving menace’ after racked up a string of driving offenses, including speeding tickets days before the fatal crash, a head-on collision and even having his license stripped from him.
Campbell first pleaded guilty on August 5 to a single felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident that led to the victim’s death.
Fair and reasonable sentence?
At the time, Judge Richard Ambro said he planned to sentence Campbell – whose mother owns a boutique in Montauk and whose father is an SVP at a luxury furnishings store – to six months of community service in lieu of jail time along with five years probation. Prosecutors at the time had asked for one to 3 years jail time.
The judge’s decision was met with outrage from Samtani’s parents, who traveled from Hong Kong to court hearings, urging him to reconsider.
‘He is going to come back and his life will be fine in a few months but for us our family is gone for life,’ Samtani’s mother, Mala Samtani, said in court after she asked Campbell why her son was left to die.
‘He came here to study, not for you to take his life away,’ she added, according to the Easthampton Star.
On Thursday, Ambro sentenced Campbell to 90 days in jail, 450 hours of community service and five years’ probation, WNBC reported.
Justice Richard Ambro called 90 days jail a fair and reasonable sentence — insisting there was no evidence that Campbell was speeding, drunk or high.
Campbell previously admitted he never stopped to try and help Samtani. Campbell’s lawyer said his client accepted responsibility for what happened.
Left for dead…
Before being led out of the Suffolk County Criminal Court in Riverhead in handcuffs, Campbell addressed his victim’s family for the first time since the tragedy.
‘The night of the accident was a terrible tragedy. My lawyers told me not to speak for one year but, I wish I could’ve met with the family to tell them how sorry I was for ruining all of their lives. I am sorry for all the pain and devastation,’ he told Samtani’s parents according to the dailymail.
Adding, ‘I wish I could have gone to Stony Brook Hospital to see your son. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about the agony you have gone through. I wish I did not panic. I would give everything to change that night and to change the outcome.
I prayed every single night when he was in the hospital. You showed me what a beautiful son he was. I know the loss be with you forever. I know you may never forgive me but know how remorseful and sorry I am. I am sorry guys.’
On the night Samtani was killed, he had been walking along Old Stone Highway with his cousin Kabir Kurani, 18, and their friends trying to get service to get an Uber back home when he was hit by Campbell .
Campbell then drove off and left the future NYU economics student to die on the highway surrounded by his friends.
How did the court not know about the defendant’s prior driving offences?
Samtani had already written a children’s book about COVID-19 with plans to donate the proceeds before he was cut down, according to prior media reports.
At Campbell’s sentencing on Thursday, Judge Ambro claimed he was unaware of Campbell’s three prior car accidents until he was informed by the DA’s office and Samtani’s family lawyer.
‘On September 9 I became aware of three accidents and a speeding ticket. I could no longer honor the no jail time commitment,’ he said.
It remained unclear how the judge was unaware of the defendant’s prior driving record and how or why prosecutors never brought it up.
‘It was hidden from us for one years – almost one year that this boy had previous accident records and not simple accidents of driving on the wrong side of the road,’ the victim’s father Kishore Samtani previously told media. ‘How does the police not know about this?’
The judge in giving Thursday’s sentencing, said that Campbell had declined a trial after pleading guilty in August, and the 90-day sentence was ‘fair and reasonable’.
As part of his sentence, Campbell’s licence will be revoked and he will be fined $2,000.
At least 30 members of Samtani’s family, including his parents Kishore and Mala Samtani, were in court for the hearing.
Before the sentencing, Kishore Samtani told the dailymail that Campbell has previously asked the judge to delay his sentencing so that he could spend Thanksgiving with his family.
Multiple violations and yet still allowed to drive
‘On the 25th of August, Campbell was requesting for a delay in sentencing because he wanted to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with his family. Thanksgiving for what? Thanking God for what … for getting off? So he will be missing one Thanksgiving and one Christmas,’ he said.
‘I heard they are upset about this and if they are upset about this what about our position.’
Kishore Samtani said he was furious that Campbell’s driving history was only uncovered after the family hired a private investigator, saying: ‘It doesn’t seem right.’
‘I am tired. We are going back. There is nothing we can do. Right. It won’t make a difference to us – one year two years. Actually, we are not happy with the system. We could afford lawyers. We could afford investigators. So we got his three months. What about the regular people?. They won’t be able to do anything,’ he said.
‘There was a lot of frustration happening in our family … We put up something, an example for other kids – come on, please don’t leave someone there dying.’
Campbell was involved in at least two crashes before the night he killed Samtani – including in February 2021 when he drove down a one way street in White Plains, New York, in the wrong direction.
It happened five months before incoming New York University freshman Samtani’s horrific death.
And just eight days prior to the fatal smash, Campbell was slapped with six points over a June 2021 speeding offense in the Bronx.
Campbell’s reckless driving history goes back to 2020 with multiple violations, including 8 points off of his license that he racked up in less than a year’s time, according to documents cited by the dailymail.
Hamptons hit-and-run driver, 20, is sentenced to 90 days in prison https://t.co/9OwKGOuSNv via @MailOnline
This is disgusting. The #JudgeRichardAmbro should be removed at once! Someone should look into his finances and that of #DanielCampbell and his parents.
— slore (@SloristOfSlores) November 3, 2022
Celebrity lawyer Benjamin Brafman, representing Samtani’s family, told the dailymail in September: ‘One of the accidents he was involved in was a head-on collision with another vehicle on a road that was clearly marked one-way.
‘He was headed in the wrong direction. It was a miracle that no one was killed or hurt.’
Speaking about Campbell himself, Brafman added: ‘We describe him as a driving menace.’
As well as the previous collisions and speeding tickets, Campbell was handed two points on his license in May 2021 for disobeying traffic devices in the town of Brookhaven, Suffolk County.
He was also fined a total of $184 for driving an uninspected and unregistered vehicle in November 2020 in Westchester County.
Campbell was seen working at his mother’s Montauk boutique, Bontemps in the months before his sentencing. He and his family lives part-time in area, with their primary residence in Hastings-on-the-Hudson in Westchester County.
The family-owned store, which opened in spring of 2021, is a beach clothing store that sells hoodies, sandals, hats, beach bags and sunglasses among other items, which has generated close to a million dollars in annual sales, public records show.
Campbell’s father, Daniel Campbell, 51, is the SVP of a modern luxury furnishings firm, that he has been with for more than 17 years, according to his Linkedin profile.