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Victim’s Family: Hit-And-Run Driver Deserves 40 Years In Jail

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The man who killed a Twin Cities college student with his car is going to prison for 40 years.

“We’re very happy. He’ll be older than us when he gets out, so we’re happy,” said Ben Van Handel’s mother, Ann, following the sentencing Monday morning.

Ben’s family believes Timothy Bakdash got what he deserved.

“We’re happy. We’re happy,” said Ben’s grandmother, Marge. “I hope he gets help, cause he needs it.”

Bakdash killed Ben and hit two other University of Minnesota students roughly one year ago.

He ran them over while driving the wrong way on a Dinkytown sidewalk.

The 40-year sentence is more than what prosecutors asked for. It’s also more time than the maximum sentence for second-degree murder — of 25 years.

“Oh, we miss him so much,” said Marge.

She’ll never be able to fill the void she has in her heart with the loss off her grandson Ben — a smart, caring young man with a bright future ahead.

“It’s hard, It’s really hard,” she said.

She visits his grave often. It’s the closest she can come to ever seeing Ben again, after he was tragically and abruptly taken from her last April.

Ben was hit, carried on the car’s hood and flew off. He hit his head on a pole and landed in the intersection.

“It was a car that was going down the one-way street and knocked two people over. I need an ambulance right now,” said the girl who called 911 after the crash at 2 a.m.

Ben suffered a severe brain injury, multiple broken-bones and never recovered. Bakdash was found guilty of hitting and killing him.

“I’m wondering what the heck is going on,” said Bakdash during a police interrogation a week following the crash. He played dumb.

“Do you want to tell me your side of the story?” asked a police investigator during that interrogation.

“Well, I mean I don’t understand,” Bakdash said.

Bakdash apologized to Ben’s family in court on Monday. He said he was too drunk and high on marijuana to know what he was doing the night he killed Ben.

Ben’s mother said that she doesn’t believe Bakdash is genuinely remorseful for killing her son. She’s heard him say that he’s sorry and blame drugs and alcohol for affecting him that night. But she said that he’s never actually admitted he did it.

The crash took a young life and left Ben’s family with a lifetime of sadness.

“We say goodbye to his picture every night,” said Ben’s Grandfather Ray. “We miss him.”

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