When vehicle accidents happen and people are seriously injured or killed, the physical and emotional healing of the victims or their family can take years. In some instances, so can the prosecution of those responsible for the crash.
A Pennsylvania man who was a teenager when he was involved in a fatal car accident pleaded guilty this week to vehicular manslaughter. The 25-year-old, who was 16 when the accident happened, received a sentence of three years of probation and was ordered to wear an ankle monitor. His punishment comes 19 years after his car struck that of an 18-year-old woman and her stepfather in Derry Township. The woman attended the same high school as the 16-year-old driver.
The crash injured the stepfather, who still requires a cane to walk, and left the young woman in a coma for eight months. She came out of it, but was left unable to speak or walk. Her parents cared for her until she died last year, which prompted the vehicular manslaughter charge so many years later.
The defendant's lawyer requested that his client be tried as a juvenile. Even though he was an adult in his 20s when the manslaughter charge was filed, the attorney reasoned, his 17th birthday was still a month away when the accident happened. But the judge declined and the defendant entered a plea instead of going to trial. Although a jury would not have heard about his record after the crash, it includes a drunk-driving arrest and guilty pleas to traffic violations.
The family of the young woman had to wait almost 20 years to see punishment for the man who caused the crash. Regardless of what they think of his punishment, it's likely that their healing process won't end here.
Source: WTAE.com, "Driver Pleads Guilty In Crash That Killed 18-Year-Old Woman Years Ago," Dec. 5, 2011