A fatal 2017 collision just southwest of Boones Mill has brought a Franklin County driver a 10-month jail sentence.
Joshua Steven Cooper, 22, of Rocky Mount pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of leaving the scene of an accident.
Through his agreement with prosecutors, Cooper’s offense was amended from a felony to a misdemeanor, which means that if he remains of good behavior while in custody, he will see release after five months.
Sentencing guidelines in the case called for a punishment of between one day and six months in jail.
Prosecutors have said that on June 28, 2017, shortly after midnight, Cooper was driving in the 3000 block of Bethlehem Road (Virginia 739), near its intersection with Sauls Hill Lane, when his 2010 Nissan Versa struck and killed 51-year-old Stephen Yopp.
Yopp, who lived along that stretch of road, was in the process of assisting with a single-vehicle car crash that had occurred less than a half-hour earlier.
Franklin County Commonwealth’s Attorney A.J. Dudley said this week that Cooper did not stop at the scene, but later called 911 and told police he believed he had struck a deer. Forensic examination of paint samples and glass fragments suggested Cooper’s vehicle might have been involved, but their reports were not conclusive.
Dudley said Yopp’s family was consulted during the case and approved of the resolution.
The week the crash occurred, the victim’s son, Mike Yopp, told The Roanoke Times his father had previously come to the aid of other drivers who had crashed along the curvy road near his home. On the night he died, Stephen Yopp was assisting a young woman whose car had overturned.
“He was just helping a 19-year-old,” Mike Yopp said in 2017. “He was just trying to get her out of the car so if somebody came around the curve, they wouldn’t hit the car.
“In life, you help people out. He had done this a hundred times,” Yopp said. “It’s just the one time he didn’t come back.”