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Auto Accident Lawyer Denver, CO

NBC News reports that a young Florida man received an unusual sentence for his role in a car accident that took the lives of three people (https://abcnews.go.com/US/florida-man-sentenced-unusually-shocking-sentence-role-fatal/story?id=58102567).

Erick Betancourt was just 19 when the crash took place in January 2014. As he drove the wrong way down the road, his SUV hit another vehicle. Inside that other vehicle were 22-year-old Anthony Rodriguez and 20-year-old Gabriel Hernandez. Both died on impact, according to the report by the medical examiner of Miami-Dade County, and so did 15-year-old Gisele Betancourt, Erick Betancourt’s younger sister, who was in his car with him at the time. Erick Betancourt sustained numerous injuries, including two broken arms, but recovered.

Now 24 years old, Betancourt faced up to 27 years of prison time on three charges of vehicular manslaughter, to which he pled guilty. However, Judge Alan Fine of the Miami Circuit Court instead gave the young man a more unusual and much shorter sentence: Betancourt was sentenced to ten nights in jail over the next decade in addition to doing community service, cleaning the memorial site for the victims, speaking multiple times annually at driver education classes, and working with students monthly for the length of his probation. Each year, Betancourt must spend the night of the crash’s anniversary date in jail.

Family members of victim Anthony Rodriguez have been outspoken about their displeasure with the short sentence in terms of time spent in jail. Rita Marti, Rodriguez’s mother, said that she was stunned by how little time in prison Betancourt received and that there should have been stronger consequences for his actions. Marti feels that the judge disrespected the family and the memory of her son with that sentence, adding that three lives were taken in the crash and the judge acted as if it were just a simple accident. Marti also expressed concern that this sentence is setting a dangerous example for future reckless driving cases.

Betancourt’s legal representation, however, did not share Marti’s view, stating he was pleased with the outcome of the sentencing. He also noted that the sentence was fair given that it was not clear whether Betancourt was being reckless at the time of the crash, and that he has been a model citizen since then who is still struggling with the death of his sister. There was no evidence presented in the case that the teenager was impaired or drinking when the fiery crash occurred, and there was also no proof he was texting. He was speeding at 73 miles per hour – close to 30 miles over the posted speed limit – but the reason he veered into the wrong lane is still not known. His defense team argued in court that he was trying to avoid hitting the other car at the time of crash.

Regardless of the circumstances, wrong-way crashes at high speeds can have devastating consequences for those involved. If you have been involved in an accident with a potentially reckless driver, speak to an auto accident lawyer Denver, CO relies on at Richard J. Banta, P.C. about your case and your rights as soon as possible.