Emotion fills a courtroom Thursday as a suspect learns his fate. Douglas Lindsey is sentenced to four months in prison plus probation and community service. He pleaded to no contest to causing the accident two years ago that left Shaela Warkentin blind. He was under the influence of prescription pain medicine.
Warkentin and her family waited two long years to hear from the man who caused them so much pain. Thursday they got a sincere apology. Now Lindsey can start forgiving himself.
“Did you know that the night you decided to take the wheel, that you would change a 15 year old girl's life forever?” Warkentin tearfully asked.
70-year-old Lindsey cries listening to Warkentin in a Fresno County courtroom. She lost her vision in an accident Lindsey caused two years ago. She says her life is very different and very lonely now.
“It's dark. I can’t see anything around me. I feel like I'm alone. Feel like I've lost a lot of friends,” said Warkentin.
Lindsey wrote a letter of apology. His daughter read it for the court.
“I am left always with a feeling of total and eternal remorse,” said Lindsey’s daughter.
He also wrote that he wishes he could give Warkentin his own eyes. The judge said he was deeply moved by both parties. He sentenced Lindsey to four months in jail along with community service. He'll talk to seniors about the consequences of using pain medication and driving.
“My views on him have definitely changed. I commend him for his apology,” said Warkentin.
Warkentin says she's forgives Lindsey. Her family didn't ask for jail time because it won't change what happened.
“Hearing his sincerity will help bring closure to our family and help us to heal,” said Ken Warkentin.
Along with her sight, Warkentin also lost her sense of smell and most of her sense of taste. Lindsey had no previous criminal record and won’t likely have to serve all four months in jail.
Click the related link to watch the video of Shaela's father reading a statement to the court prior to sentencing.