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Man who caused fatal accident fleeing hit-and-run gets 10 years

On behalf of Terence Gross of Gross & Schuster, P.A. posted in Wrongful Death on Friday, February 4, 2011.

On July 3 of last year, a young man from Sebring was driving with a 19-year-old friend when he was involved in a car accident. He fled the scene, and the police followed. He headed onto U.S. 98, and when he reached the intersection of U.S. 98 and Scenic Highway 98, he ran a red light.

Unfortunately, a pickup truck was turning onto U.S. 98, and the Nissan slammed into the pickup. Neither the Sebring man nor his passenger, a close friend, was wearing a seat belt. His friend was killed. The pickup driver suffered minor injuries.

After the fatal accident, the Sebring man was charged with eluding a police officer, resulting in death. He was also charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage for his earlier hit and run.

Yesterday, he agreed to plead guilty. According to the prosecutor, Assistant State Attorney Angela Mason, a charge of “fleeing and eluding a law enforcement officer resulting in death” carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. In exchange for pleading guilty, the man will serve a total of 10 years for both charges.

Family describes the tragedy of three lives destroyed by the fatal accident

“The tragedy of this is that two lives are ruined and one is gone,” the mother of the deceased told the driver in court on Thursday. “You made a conscious decision and that decision put two lives at risk.”

The families of the defendant and the young man who died in the fatal car accident know each other well. The dead man’s mother recalled her son as “a good kid” who “had his trouble,” and says that she forgives the defendant and urged him to use his time in prison productively.

“Both of these boys deserve more than they have before them right now,” she told the court.

The defendant apologized to his dead friend’s mother and family. “[He] was one of my good friends,” he said.

“I forgave you before and I forgive you again,” she told him.

Of course, no amount of remorse and forgiveness can change what happened on the night of that fatal accident in Destin, but prosecutor Angela Mason says that the Sebring man’s decision to plead guilty was a blessing to the victim’s family.

“When I saw the two families interacting, I really felt like we had done the right thing,” she told the Daily News.

Source: Northwest Florida Daily News, “Man who caused fatal wreck while fleeing scene gets 10 years,” Tom McLaughlin, February 3, 2011

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