Teacher Erin Jackson avoids prison for hit-and-run that seriously injured East High student

DENVER - The teacher accused of hitting and seriously injuring a high school student in Denver in February, then leaving the scene, has been sentenced to probation.

Under a plea agreement approved by the victim's family, Erin Jackson pleaded guilty earlier this month to attempted hit-and-run causing serious bodily injury, a class 5 felony.

She was sentenced to five years probation and 350 hours of community service. The judge said that probation must be served in Colorado.

Lynn Kimbrough, a spokeswoman with the Denver District Attorney's Office, said the plea "would ensure Ms. Jackson pleaded guilty to a felony that will always remain on her record."

Because of that felony, Jackson will never be able to teach again. Her driver's license has also been suspended for two years.

Surveillance video showed East High School student Deyondrah Bridgeman, 16, walking north in the crosswalk at Colfax Avenue and Elizabeth Street Feb. 27 when a sedan ran a red light and hit her. The driver didn't stop.

Jackson, a teacher at Axl Academy in Aurora, turned herself in the next day.

Bridgeman was seriously injured in the crash. She still has brain damage and paralysis and is learning to walk again.

"She was happy and lively before the accident, and ... when I first saw her, she was basically a shell in a bed. She made more progress and was sort of coming back to life but it's going to take awhile," said Bridgeman's friend during Friday's sentencing.

Kimbrough said there was no guarantee that by going to trial Jackson would face anything more serious than this particular conviction and sentence.

As part of her sentencing, Jackson will have to serve her community service by helping victims of traumatic brain injuries.

In a letter Jackson sent to Bridgeman's family, Jackson said she was extremely remorseful. She said the sun glare blinded her and she didn't realize she had hit someone in the intersection. She said that she didn't realize what she had done until she saw the news reports of police searching for a hit-and-run driver.