A Georgia teen driver who knocked down and killed three pedestrians, including a baby, has pleaded guilty but has avoided jail.
Zoe Reardon was sentenced to 36 months probation the day before her 19th birthday after pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges that included vehicular homicide, according to local reports.
Reardon was only charged after the deceased loved ones had brought a civil lawsuit against authorities in the city of Woodstock over the lack of pedestrian crossing and other safety measures at the location where the three were struck by Reardon’s SUV in September 2017.
The judge granted her first offender status.
“You’re pretty young,” Cherokee County State Court Judge Alan Jordan told Reardon during sentencing. “You’ve got a lifetime ahead of you. I expect this is something you’re going to have a hard time dealing with the rest of your life.”
Kathy Deming and Kaitlin Hunt, who was holding her baby, Riley Hunt, were crossing the street when they were struck on the road in Cherokee County.
Baby Riley died the night of the collision and her mother was taken off life support a few days later, surgeons having taken measures to follow her wishes as an organ donor.
Deming died 10 days later.
Reardon offered a tearful apology to their loved ones in court, reported AJC.
“I wish there was more I could have done to make it better for y’all,” Jordan told the victims’ friends and relatives. “I sincerely hope you folks can start to find closure.”
“I’ve often wanted to reach out. I can’t imagine how much pain you’re experiencing.”
The group was headed to a concert before they were hit and killed. Today, the teen responsible pled guilty and won't go to jail.
Some family members expressed anger at Reardon for having not personally contacted them before to apologise—something which her lawyer said she had been unable to do for legal reasons.
The family said in a statement to WSBTV, “Our desire has always been for the woman who killed our daughter, Kaitlin Hunt; granddaughter, Riley Hunt; and dear friend Kathy Deming to be held accountable for her actions.
“What happened is a tragedy on multiple levels, and there is no outcome that will make our family whole again. Court actions cannot heal us—we must continue to heal ourselves.”
Thread: Hearing for 18 yo Zoe Reardon. At 17-hit,killed 3 ppl in Woodstock-mom,baby,their family friend—who were crossing rd leaving concert around 8:15 p.m. Case closed w no charges in Jan ’18,inves. concluded hitting 3 was unavoidable, no speeding (no pic fam friend) @wsbtv pic.twitter.com/tfA9PY2h80
— Nicole Carr (@NicoleCarrWSB) February 15, 2019
According to ACJ, investigators determined she was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol and was not speeding.
Collision After Sunset
Her defense highlighted forensics that demonstrated it was not a distracted driving case, according to WSBTV.
The collision happened after the sun had set.
Reardon has always maintained she never saw them, as they were wearing dark clothing and were crossing where there were no traffic lights—something some of the victim’s loved ones did not believe.
“It’s ridiculous to say they walked out in front of you. That didn’t happen, and you know it didn’t happen,” said Kathy’s widower, Mike Deming in an impact statement, reported WSBTV.
Her plea agreement would result in 36 months of probation, fines that she can reduce if she donates to a foundation that…
In addition to the 3-year probation, Reardon was ordered to complete 240 hours of community service and safe driver training. She must pay about $4,000 in fines that she can reduce if she donates to a foundation that works to combat distracted driving. Her license will be suspended for between 12 and 36 months.
Reardon’s lawyer, Manny Arora rejected suggestions that she had been distracted by her cellphone.
“Just watch two-minute snippets of the news to figure out what the facts are, that’s just not right,” Arora told WSB. “The cellphone had nothing to do with it. Distracted driving had nothing to do with it. ”
According to Arora, Reardon pleaded guilty because she did not want the family to have to go through a full trial.
Arora said that Reardon’s lack of apology to the family was for a reason.
“I mean people are hurting. They can say what they want,” Manny Arora said. “The issue here is police told us not to contact them. The plaintiff’s lawyers in the civil suits that were going on told us not to contact them, and the criminal case was sort of just an afterthought.”