Driver changes plea to guilty in fatal hit-and-run

SEEKONK, Mass. (WPRI) – The driver accused in a hit-and-run crash that claimed the life of Seekonk’s assistant town clerk has changed his plea in the case.

Jacob LaCourse, 24, went before a judge Wednesday and changed his plea to guilty on charges of leaving the scene of an accident – death resulting, and negligent operation of a motor vehicle.

Police said LaCourse was behind the wheel of the car that struck and killed Karen McHugh back in January of 2015.

Family photo of Karen McHugh
Family photo of Karen McHugh

McHugh was walking along Arcade Avenue at night because the sidewalks were covered with snow, according to police.

Police searched for months and finally arrested LaCourse last July.

Various members of McHugh’s family spoke in court Wednesday, including her sister, nieces, nephews, and widow, Sandy Lima. The two were together for 21 years, and Lima remembered a recent visit to the cemetery.

“The weather was cold, the skies dark, the trees had lost their leaves,” she recalled. “And as I looked around I realized that all that I saw was an accurate picture of my life now. Devoid of her love, of her warmth, of her intelligence.”

LaCourse is set to be sentenced in April. Prosecutors are seeking the maximum six and a half to 10 years in state prison. The defense asked for two years in the House of Corrections, noting LaCourse’s lack of a criminal record and his two young sons.

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