As a young man, Vincenzo Moscato Peragine had a lot going for him: After earning top marks in high school, serving as class valedictorian and winning a soccer scholarship, he went on to play for Simon Fraser University while maintaining a high grade-point average.
If Vince, as he was known, had a fault, it was apparently fast driving.
Peragine wracked up 10 driving violations between 2003 and 2009, including at least three for speeding and two for running a red light, according to court records.
It's not known if Peragine was speeding on Jan. 21, 2010, but it is known the kinesiology graduate made a decision that afternoon that would cause him to keep a dark secret for two years, eventually land him in jail and, he later would say, haunt him for the rest of his life.
Driving south on Willingdon Avenue in north Burnaby in his 1993 BMW 318 at 3: 30 p.m., Peragine heard a loud bang and saw some-one lying in the road.
Instead of returning to the accident scene at the urging of his friend in the back seat, Peragine pulled over briefly to check the damage to his car. He found a bag stuck in the grille and threw it into his trunk.
"He did this to conceal his involvement in the accident," according to reasons for sentencing by B.C. Provincial Court Judge Reg Harris in Vancouver.
Peragine ignored his friend's pleas to go back and swore her and another friend in the car to secrecy, telling them "to forget that it happened."
The pedestrian he struck, Virginia Itubay, 73, a beloved aunt and retired longtime caregiver on her way home from her daily trip to celebrate mass at church, died the next day in hospital as a result of her injuries.
Peragine ignored her family's public appeal to turn himself in, but police received information that led them to question him about the damage to his vehicle two weeks later. He lied to them about being involved and even offered to take a lie-detector test.
Police never closed the case and, two years later, Peragine admitted to the accident to an undercover officer. He eventually pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident knowing that bodily harm or death was caused with the intent to escape criminal liability.
The maximum sentence for the offence is life in prison. Prosecutors had suggested a sentence of up to 15 months, while his lawyer had asked for house arrest. Court heard that Peragine, 30, lived at home with his parents and had worked as a Canada Post letter carrier since 2007.
After the accident, he suffered from depression and got temporarily hooked on Percocets, a narcotic painkiller he took for his insomnia, "which he attributes to the accident."
Court also heard he shows remorse, has empathy for the victim and had written an apology letter to Itubay's family.
"Vince observes that he will have to carry this burden for the rest of his life," said his pre-sentence report.
Judge Harris noted Peragine's case was helped by the fact he had no previous record and had pleaded guilty but was worsened by his lies to police and "lengthy history" of traffic infractions.
And he "displayed a reprehensible disregard for a human being."
Harris sentenced him to five months in prison and banned him from driving for two years.
For Itubay's niece, Ria Renouf, that's little consolation for the loss of the woman who wore her hair in trademark pigtails, favoured brightly coloured clothes and was always handing out candy.
"She was wonderful. She was so loved in her community and her church. A lot of people will miss her," said Renouf.
Renouf, who accepts the crash was an accident, as do police and the courts, said Peragine made things worse for himself and her family by not stepping up and owning up to what he did.
"I hope he takes the five months and the two years' driving ban to think about what he's done and that he really acts like a responsible adult next time he gets behind the wheel of a car," she said.