BRIGHTON, Colo. (CBS4) – A distracted driver who killed two people in a collision a year ago won’t have to spend time in prison after relatives of the victims collectively decided to ask for leniency and no jail time.
The crash happened in March 2012 along 168th Avenue near Thornton. Stephen Dabney and Seth Lewis were killed when Michael Grennan veered off the road in his truck after reaching down to pick up his cellphone and struck them.
Grennan took full responsibility for his actions in Adams County Court Thursday during his sentencing, which followed an earlier guilty plea to charges of careless driving.
During the hearing his attorney related the story of how Grennan was driving to work when his phone rang in his lap. Grennan reached down to pick it up and when he looked back up he was in the shoulder of the road.
The families of the victims told CBS4 they have found it in their hearts to forgive Grennan, and the judge said she admired and respected their decision as she sentenced Grennan to two years probation and 300 hours of community service.
“I’m really glad the judge listened to us. I think we’ve all been through enough already and I think now we can just move forward and start to heal,” said Carla Dabney, Stephen’s widow.
“Some people may not agree with that, but that’s what we did today,” said Rose Lewis, Seth’s mother.
Lewis said since the accident her family and the other families involved have come together with “love and strength.” The judge told the families that if any one of them had asked for jail time for Grennan, she would have delivered it.
“It was an accident and we have to move on, because if we continue to hate where are we going to be?” said Rose.
Jacob Dabney, Stephen’s brother, echoed those sentiments.
“He didn’t deserve jail time or anything like that. He’s hurting worse than we are and in more ways,” said Jacob.
The families of the victims also want to send a message about the dangers of driving and talking on cellphones.
“If anybody can get anything out of this, just put the damn phone down,” one family member told CBS4.