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Plea deal reached in case involving driver who struck New Hope pedestrian in February

Photo: Deanne McBeath

A plea agreement has been reached in a case involving a Philadelphia woman who struck a Morrisville man with her minivan as he walked his dog near the New Hope-Lambertville Bridge on Feb. 1.

Georgina Papa, 18, had been charged with causing an accident involving injury while not licensed, and aggravated assault by vehicle — both felonies — along with several lesser offenses. Only the first felony will be pursued under the deal, along with two summary charges — driving without a license and driving on the sidewalk — following a preliminary hearing in the case Thursday under Judge Maggie Snow.

The prosecutor in the case, Deputy District Attorney Robert James, said he didn’t believe pursuing the aggravated assault and reckless endangerment charges was warranted.

“In our opinion, she was an unlicensed driver, she had an expired learner’s permit, she was an inexperienced driver who made the turn way too wide and tried to avoid a vehicle turning left in her direction and overcompensated, and hit the gas instead of the brakes,” he explained. “It was more negligent than reckless.”

Charges against the driver’s mother, Nancy Raquel Papa, 48, of Philadelphia, who was a passenger in the minivan along with two of her younger children, have also been dropped. She had been accused of giving false information to the police and permitting her daughter to drive without a license, both considered summary offenses.

Photo: New Hope Police

Paul Stancker, 53, who has been recovering from severe injuries sustained when he was struck by the vehicle, attended Thursday’s hearing. His dog “Loki” was not hurt in the incident.

Papa had been driving north on South Main Street in a 2014 Toyota Sienna when she turned right onto East Bridge Street, police said. She drove over the curb, striking a garbage can, then hit Stancker head-on as he walked west on the sidewalk.

The impact of the collision forced Stancker onto the hood and windshield of the minivan, where he was carried several feet before the vehicle struck a utility pole, sending him flying another 10 feet onto the sidewalk, according to police. He suffered skull, facial, and rib fractures, along with severe bleeding around his brain.

“Paul has a TBI [traumatic brain injury] which affects his day-to-day life,” said his girlfriend Barbara (last name omitted for privacy). “While he is no longer in rehab and has returned to work, he still has loss of words, memory and is easily fatigued.”

Stancker is grateful that the authorities have pursued charges against Papa aggressively.

“Paul wants her to learn this wasn’t an “accident” —  it was a choice made by her and her mother to drive unlicensed and inexperienced,” said girlfriend Barbara, who added that Stancker is thankful to police, EMTs and citizens at the scene who helped him and his dog.

Papa’s attorney, Robert Madden, said his client is remorseful.

“She was a young girl with a driver’s permit, and she made a mistake,” he said.

Stancker’s girlfriend said the tragedy will not keep him from returning to New Hope.

“Paul loves New Hope, its people, and will not let this incident change his willingness to visit as often as he can,” she said.

A formal arraignment is scheduled for Aug. 14, and the case is expected to wrap up early next year.

About the author

Charlie Sahner

“Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy." - Einstein


  • Perhaps some sort of justice will come of this if Paul’s family stars a lawsuit in civil court where at least his medical expenses will be paid for the day to day trauma he is experiencing.

  • Interesting that the mother’s charges were dropped. Why? If people can say the girl was so young, it was an accident blah blah, then the mother should most definitely be charged bc she is not young and her actions were no accident. She is not a young child and should’ve known better than to let her unlicensed expired permit daughter drive. Sickening. Sending my thoughts to Paul, Barbara and Loki.

  • Why did they drop so many charges? And why didn’t the charges for the mother go forward? The mother let her daughter drive illegally and her daughter nearly killed an innocent pedestrian just out walking his dog.

    Why wasn’t the mother driving? What about the dangers this very bad driver clearly posed to her younger kids in the car? So many things wrong with this case. It was a really really bad accident that happened NOT because the driver was driving defensively but because she was incompetent. Plus she was driving illegally.

    I was there at the scene and it looks like the poor injured man will not see justice.

  • Inexperienced driver kid panicked and hit the gas instead of the brakes. We have all been new drivers and some of us have new diver kids. There is risk there. Don’t ruin her life. Right decision. Don’t let her moms stupidity hurt her.

    • Jeff, would you feel differently if she had mowed down you or your wife? She is 18, old enough to vote and serve in the military. She is an adult, not a kid. She consciously got behind the wheel of a car knowing full well she had no right to do so. God forbid we ruin a little of her life! The man she hit will suffer with his ruined life for many years to come. Driver & her mother guilty of depraved indifference for human life. Sincerely hope he files a civil suit against her & the mother.

    • No she didn’t “hit the gas instead of the brakes.”

      The “official” story which has changed over time was that she was trying to get out of the way of someone turning left into her lane. But that’s not true either as was clear at the scene.

      This was during extremely slow traffic on a lazy February.

      She was clearly distracted probably on her phone, or talking to her mom or young siblings.

      And to pile right into a pedestrian way up on the sidewalk (nowhere near the intersection) like that was NOT about being “inexperienced.”

      She should never receive a license, should go to jail, and afterwards do community service . At the very least.

      And her mother lied to the police about a lot of stuff.

      No, those of us with driver age kids do NOT universally support leniency with no repercussions as you do.

      • Felicity was in the car and knows the girl floored it with murderous intentions while talking on the phone. What a malicious nitwit! Oh and Felicity never talks to other passengers while she’s driving…because that’s a jailable offence. This miserable human would throw a girl (yes an 18 year old is a kid) in jail for a mistake that led to a tragic result. And Sandra is just as bad. Of course I’d feel different if my loved one died as a result of an accident. That’s a moronic question. Any objective observer would realize this was a tragic accident

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