A year after a motor vehicle accident left three Maryland teenagers dead, members of the community remain at odds over the sentencing of the driver, whose prison term was recently reduced.
On one side stands the family of the three victims and their supporters. On the other side is the driver, who claimed a judge wanted to make an example out of him, as well as community members who said his lapse in judgment should not define him.
The accident occurred May 14, 2011, after the driver, now 21, and friends left a gathering in Montgomery County, Maryland. The driver lost control of his Toyota Corolla, sending it into a tree in the early hours of the morning. Despite his three friends being injured at the scene, the driver vanished into the woods. He still had a blood alcohol content of more than twice the legal limit after police found him hours after the crash.
The man admitted in court that he was guilty of three counts of vehicular manslaughter, along with failing to remain at the site of a crash in which the possibility of fatal victims existed. However, the driver said his initial sentence of 20 years in prison resulted from the judge’s attempt to take a stand against what the driver called attitudes about young people driving dangerously.
Three Montgomery County judges agreed to reduce his sentence from 20 years to eight, meaning he could be out on parole as early as next May
The decision left the parents and friends of the three who died with shock and anger. While the parents acknowledge their children also had been drinking that night, they said the driver never should have been behind the wheel nor should he have run off as his friends lay dying.
The parents of the victims could consider filing a civil suit against the driver to give them another way for their voices to be heard.