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Driver in fatal Panama City DUI crash sentenced to 15 years

Few people in this country can claim that they are unaware of the dangers of drunk driving. For years, billboards, television advertisements, national studies and classes for teens have warned people against getting behind the wheel after a few drinks. Alcohol impairs a person's vision, reaction time and decision-making, which can put both the intoxicated driver and others on the road in grave danger. Sadly, some people still choose to ignore the facts.

More than a year ago, a 21-year-old Panama City woman was killed after the car she was in was struck by a drunk driver. The crash caused the car she was in to land upside down in a ditch. Her sister, who was driving the car, sustained injuries but survived the crash. As she pleaded for the drunk driver to help save her sister, she watched him run away from the crash site.

Eventually, the driver was caught and charged with leaving the scene of a deadly crash, DUI manslaughter and DUI with serious bodily injury. Last week, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison and five years of probation.

Although the young woman's family has chosen to forgive the man who killed her, they are not sure that he has remorse in his heart. While nothing can ever make up for the loss of their daughter and sister, they hope the man's lengthy prison sentence will help others think twice before they drink and drive. No one deserves to die at the hands of a careless driver.

Source: The News Herald, "Drunk driver gets forgiveness, 15-year sentence," Chris Olwell, Oct. 16, 2013

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