Florida drivers are responsible for the damage they cause when they are behind the wheel. Nowhere is this more true than in cases involving men and women driving under the influence (DUI) and hurting someone. When drivers ignore their commitment to be safe and responsible while driving, people get hurt. Those who hurt others due to their own recklessness and negligence should pay for the damage they cause.
All too regrettably, just such a scenario has been unfolding in Santa Rosa County.
Kailen Kelly appeared in court on Wednesday and pleaded guilty to 14 charges stemming from a collision he caused in May. While driving under the influence in a dangerous and erratic manner, Kelly struck several vehicles before the final collision that stopped his vehicle. Witnesses stated that they saw Kelly driving approximately 80 mph in a 55-mph area and surveillance footage showed him swerving in and out of traffic in an erratic manner.
In the vehicle that Mr. Kelly struck were Stormie Harrell and Sidney Michaela Dowdy, who were 7 and 17 respectively, their mother and another passenger. Sadly, Stormie and Sidney did not survive the accident and the other passengers were seriously injured.
Drivers like Mr. Kelly, who show such wanton disregard for the safety of those around them, have no place on our roads.
Judge David Rimmer, who is presiding over the case, said that Kelly will face at least 25 years in prison. The prosecutor of the case, Bill Eddins, indicated to reporters that he intends to seek the maximum possible penalty for Kelly’s crimes: life in prison.
The tragic loss of a loved ones in unexpected circumstances, especially as a result of the negligent and criminal acts of another, are devastating and can leave a wake of destruction in the lives of surviving family members.
Individuals injured due to the negligence of others and the families of those who are lost in such tragedies have legal rights. These can include financial damages, claims for wrongful death, and more. The individual(s) responsible for such loss and hardship should be accountable not just for the laws that they break but also for the damages they caused to those who suffered because of their actions.