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      Hit and run suspects won't escape harsh penalties

      In the wake of Wednesday's fatal hit and run accident in Marquette, many of you on Facebook wanted to know more about the crime itself. How serious is it, and what are the consequences?

      Law enforcement officials say they don't happen often, but leave the scene of an accident after you've hit something or someone, and you can run into a lot of trouble.

      "Just by fleeing if you weren't at fault you've now committed a crime," said Marquette County Prosecutor Matt Wiese.

      Fleeing the scene of property damage can land you a misdemeanor. Causing injury or death elevates the severity of the crime to a felony, punishable by up to five or even 15 years in prison if the accident was your fault.

      Defense Attorney Karl Numinen says sometimes the only defense can be that the driver simply didn't know he or she was involved in a crash. Something Prosecutor Wiese says is hard to believe.

      "It would be pretty hard, in my opinion, for you to hit somebody and not know that you hit them, especially when somebody's seriously hurt or seriously injured," Wiese said.

      Facebook fan Lisa Sutinen writes, "People who do that are more concerned about themselves than the victim who they hit. There usually is more to it, (drunk driving, etc.) when they flee."

      In fact, alcohol is one of the most common factors.

      "They're drinking and they don't want to compound the accident with getting a DUI at the same time," Numinen said.

      Detectives at the Marquette City Police say they take each hit and run case seriously and look at evidence from the scene closely to track down the suspect.

      "They can gather a lot of information as far as speed as far as stopping distances," said Det. Lt. Michael Wasie.

      Police say regardless of the law, from an ethical standpoint you should always stop if you've been involved in an accident, wait for the police, and help those who may be hurt.