Family decries sentencing in child fatality crash
The woman who struck and fatally injured a North Fort Myers girl as the 12-year-old walked home from a school bus stop pleaded no contest to careless driving Thursday.
Mary Ann Miller, 62, was sentenced to a $1,000 fine, 75 hours of community service, a six-month suspension of her driver’s license and will attend trauma classes at the hospital.
But while Judge James Adams said that those were the statutory maximums, friends and family of Alana Tamplin say the penalty was far too light.
After the sentencing, Alana’s mother was distraught.
“It still can’t be real. My daughter still can’t be gone. I raised her for 12 years and in a moment, I didn’t get to say goodbye,” Sarah Tamplin said to broadcast media after court. “This is it. This is my life now.”
Christy-Lee Iwanow, who started Benches for Our Babes shortly after first Alana and then Layla Aiken, 8, of Cape Coral were killed in unrelated bus stop incidents, said there was a feeling there is to be no justice for Alana.
“She veered off the shoulder and left the scene. She ran a day care out of her home and she clearly knows how to do CPR and she never rendered aid to Alana,” Iwanow said. “It’s better than a $161 ticket, at the same time, you’re giving the example that our children, accident or not, you can leave the scene and still have minimal consequences.”
The fatality happened in the early morning hours of Jan. 14 on Durrance Road. Miller briefly drove away but returned shortly thereafter.
She was not charged with hit-and-run.
At the hearing Thursday, 13-year-old Brooklyn Davis, who was walking with Alana after the two dropped Alana’s younger sister off at the bus stop, spoke in court to try to get a stiffer penalty. There was nothing she could do as the legal guidelines are set by statute and careless driving is a traffic offense, not a criminal charge.
In her statement, Brooklyn told the judge that Alana never got to go to the eighth-grade dance, have her first kiss, go to the prom or have a family of her own. Brooklyn called Alana her other half and said she will never get to laugh with her or hang out together because she is gone.
After learning of the sentence, Brooklyn said she was shocked.
“I don’t know how that could be possible. She not only took a life, it was a young person’s life,” Brooklyn said. “I was waiting to see how this turned out.”
Brooklyn’s mother, Katie Johnson, agreed with her assessment.
“I don’t understand how that could be the punishment for the crime. It can never be fixed and there was no justice. You can’t put a price on a little girl’s life,” Johnson said. “You can’t just suspend her license.”
Miller could not be immediately reached for comment.