A motorist who fatally struck an 18-year-old college student in La Mesa, then fled and was arrested more than a month later, was sentenced Thursday to three years in state prison.
Scott Douglas Satterfield, 62, of Spring Valley, pleaded guilty to a felony count of hit-and-run causing death for striking Jok Michael Jok with a pickup on Feb. 27, 2021. The victim was found shortly after 9 p.m. lying on the eastern edge of the roadway on Bancroft Drive, just south of Golondrina Drive, according to the La Mesa Police Department.
He died in a hospital about a week later.
Investigators determined that Satterfield was the hit-and-run driver via surveillance video that captured images of his white Ford F-150 in the area at the time of the traffic fatality, according to police.
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Prosecutors say said the defendant's vehicle was located on March 16 with a cracked windshield and other damage consistent with striking a person.
Satterfield was arrested April 7 at an unidentified motel in Mission Valley, La Mesa police said.
Deputy District Attorney David Vallero called the case "very tragic" and said Satterfield "knew police were looking for him" in the weeks leading up to his arrest.
At Satterfield's sentencing hearing, San Diego Superior Court Judge Robert Amador said that per the prosecution's sentencing papers, a person who encountered Satterfield shortly after the incident said he was "reeking of booze." The judge said he had "no question" Satterfield fled due to driving under the influence.
Per state law, Amador said the maximum sentence he could impose was three years in prison, and he told the defendant "you deserve all of it."
According to an online obituary, Jok, the son of Sudanese immigrants, was born in San Diego, graduated from La Jolla Country Day School in 2020 and was attending UC Riverside at the time of his death in an accelerated bachelor's program that would have led to medical school, where he sought to specialize in neuropharmacology.
At the sentencing hearing, Jok's father, Joseph Jok, said his son wanted to study neuropharmacology due to the death of a family member from ALS, as well as being "fascinated with the brain" from an early age.
The family fled Sudan 24 years ago to escape war and with hopes of raising their children in the United States amid "peace and safety," according to Joseph Jok, who told the judge, "This has destroyed our family. I can't find the words to describe the pain and anguish I am in."
Robin Stewart, one of Jok's teachers from La Jolla Country Day School, said Jok "changed my life as a 20-year educator" and was a mentor to other students.
"Beyond my personal loss, this is a loss to society," Stewart said, noting what she felt was "the tenfold impact he would have had on our world."
Jok's father asked for the maximum possible sentence, "not because it's going to bring my son back," but due to what he said was "disregard" shown on the defendant's part.
"The first thing I learned when I came to this country is to respect the law," Jok said. "Even when you strike animals, you need to stop and help."