Minnesota Families Convince Judge to Reduce Fatal Crash Sentence
If members of your family were killed in a crash due to the negligence of another driver, would you try to convince the judge to reduce the sentence? That's just what two families here in Minnesota just did.
It all stems from an unspeakably-horrible crash that happened on July 31st, 2016 along I-80 near Brule, Nebraska. A semi-truck driver was driving distracted and didn't notice traffic in a construction zone had come to a stop. He slammed his truck into the minivan carrying Jamison and Kathryne Pals, of St. Paul, and their three children, ages 3 years, 2½ and 23 months.
They were all killed in the crash, as was another man from Denver.
That story, horrible as it was, really stood out to me because less than two weeks earlier, my wife and I had driven through that exact stretch of I-80 in western Nebraska, on our way back from a trip out to Las Vegas and Utah.
This KROC-AM story says the truck driver, 55-year old Tony Weekly, was sentenced earlier this week to 180 days in jail and two years of probation after he pleaded no contest to six counts of vehicular homicide and one of reckless driving.
When I read that story just yesterday, though, I thought that seemed like a pretty light sentence for causing such a horrific crash. Turns out it was-- and it was all because the Pals' families here in Minnesota convinced the judge to go with a reduced sentence.
This KARE-11 story says prosecutors were pushing for a sentence of five to nine years in prison, but the judge was apparently moved by the families' faith and forgiveness. Rick Pals is Jamison's father, and instead of being bitter and asking the judge to through the book at Weekly, he said this:
"I know how much God has forgiven me. How can I not forgive you?" Pals said in the story. "I am not in the position of authority to extend you mercy, Tony, however I can request mercy for you."
Ricks in-laws said much the same thing. And the judge heard them. I'm super-impressed with their ability to forgive the man who took their family away from them; I'm not sure I'd be able to be that forgiving, although perhaps that is the only way one can move on from such a horrific incident. Either way, it's quite the story, isn't it?