Dee Anne Cooper said she had to forgive the man who drove despite doctor’s orders and caused the wreck that fatally injured her mother and put Cooper herself in a wheelchair.
“I think he’s going to have his own demons in the future,” she said Thursday at Justice Heckart’s sentencing. “I’ve got to just forgive him and be done with it. Nothing is going to bring her back.”
But the 2 1/2 years in prison that 21-year-old Heckart was sentenced to didn’t satisfy her.
“It’s not enough,” Cooper, 56, of Auburn, said outside the courtroom.
Heckart pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide, and Pierce County Superior Court Judge Stanley J. Rumbaugh sentenced him.
The judge noted that Heckart had an “unblemished” record before the wreck, but went on to say: “you have to suffer the consequences.”
Heckart was trying to pass another vehicle , in the 1800 block of East Valley Highway on Jan. 7, 2015, when he crossed into the oncoming lane and hit the car carrying 76-year-old Helen Stolp and her daughter.
Doctors had told Heckart as far back as 2013 that he was not to drive, because he suffers from epilepsy, prosecutor’s said. He was unconscious when officers arrived at the wreck, and likely had suffered a seizure, according to court records.
Tests found traces of THC, PCP and barbiturates in his system after the crash, though he did not appear impaired at the time.
Stolp died from her injuries two weeks later.
Cooper, who suffered what loved ones described as “horrific injuries,” attended Thursday’s sentencing in a wheelchair. One of her legs was partially amputated after the wreck.
“I hope one day she can forgive me,” Heckart said at sentencing.
A woman who identified herself as Heckart’s grandmother declined to talk to The News Tribune outside the courtroom. He had been living with her in Lakewood at the time of the wreck.
“He gets it,” deputy prosecutor Tim Jones said after the sentencing. “He knows he did something really really bad.”
But Cooper worried, she said, that Heckart might drive again when he’s released, and wanted others to be careful on the road when he gets out of prison.
“I’ll probably be taking the bus,” she said.