A D.C. Superior Court judge on Aug. 30 sentenced gay restaurant manager Joel Bromwell to four years in jail for the March 21 hit and run accident in which the vehicle he was driving struck and killed a 71-year-old woman on a street in Northeast D.C.
Bromwell, 32, pled guilty in May to the charges of involuntary manslaughter and driving under the influence of alcohol in connection with the incident. He has been held in jail since the time he was arrested on the night of the accident. The maximum sentence for the two offenses is 30 years incarceration.
Many among his wide circle of friends in the D.C. gay community described Bromwell as a kind and gentle person who would never intentionally hurt anyone, and expressed shock upon learning of the incident.
A statement released by the U.S. Attorney’s office on the day of the sentencing says eyewitnesses saw Bromwell’s sport utility vehicle strike Ruby Whitfield as she was walking across the 1100 block of Florida Avenue, N.E. in a clearly marked crosswalk. The statement says Whitfield, who had just left a church ushers meeting, became lodged beneath the SUV and was dragged about 86 feet as Bromwell continued driving.
One of the witnesses in a nearby car drove up to Bromwell’s SUV a block from the scene of the accident, told Bromwell he had hit someone, and urged him to return to the scene, the statement says. It says Bromwell ignored the witness and drove away.
D.C. police a short time later located Bromwell’s SUV and Bromwell and arrested him. When taken to a police station breath tests showed that his blood alcohol was above the legal limit for driving, the U.S. Attorney’s statement says.
The Washington Post reported Bromwell submitted a written statement to the court saying that “from the morning when I wake up to the every night when I go to sleep, I feel the pain and anguish I’ve caused other people…Because of my choices, I’ve hurt people in ways that is not fathomable.”
According to the Post, the victim’s daughter, Tasyha Whitfield, told the court in a written statement that the incident that took her mother’s life was a “heartless and senseless crime” and that she doesn’t accept Bromwell’s expression of remorse.