Driver given probation in Missouri Southern State player deaths

Two years have gone by since a drunken driver flipped an SUV, and two Missouri
Southern State University football players were killed on their way back
to Joplin. The driver is now 21 years old; two of his teenaged companions
that night will never reach their 21st birthdays.

A judge recently granted the driver probation in his convictions for involuntary
manslaughter in the December 2011 car accident. He’s also facing at
least one personal injury lawsuit and a
wrongful deathlawsuit, according to reports.

The Joplin Globe and other news outlets have reported that the owners of
the now-closed Icon nightclub in Springfield also face legal claims for
serving the underage driver that night.

The judge in the manslaughter cases had originally ordered the Harrison,
Arkansas, resident to spend 140 days of “shock time” in a Missouri
prison. But our state’s Department of Corrections said later that
the man is ineligible for shock incarceration.

In June, the former MSSU athlete pleaded guilty to the two counts in the
2011 crash that took the lives of a pair of 19-year-old football players
and resulted in injuries to another passenger in the SUV.

The vehicle overturned on Interstate 44 near Sarcoxie after hitting median cables.

The SUV came to a stop in an eastbound lane of the highway; one teen was
thrown from the vehicle and apparently died on impact. Another died inside
the vehicle after it was struck by an eastbound 18-wheeler.

The driver of the big rig reportedly faces a legal claim from the family
of the victim as well.

The driver of the SUV was tested with a 0.11 percent blood-alcohol level
after the fatal crash. Missouri’s legal limit is 0.08 percent.

He now faces five years of supervised probation and 200 hours of community service.

It seems unlikely that most people would consider probation and community
service as fitting punishments, but that’s what our criminal justice
system has decided. Clearly, the families of the victims are seeking another
level of justice by filing legal claims against the SUV driver, the nightclub
owner and the tractor-trailer driver.

Those who are likewise seeking justice for their lost loved ones should
discuss their legal options with an attorney experienced in matters of
wrongful death.

Source: KTTN, “News,” Nov. 27, 2013

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