Susan Rainwater made a habit of waking up her husband with a cup of coffee and a kiss at their Eatonville-area home.
That’s what she did Aug. 9 before she told him that she was going on a bike ride and would be back in 30 minutes.
“We were married 30 wonderful years,” 81-year-old Al Rainwater told a judge Wednesday. “We still held hands when we walked.”
He said he went looking for his wife when she didn’t come home and found her body in a ditch, where the 66-year-old had been hit by a car.
The hit-and-run driver who killed her, 37-year-old Jeremy Thomas Simon, pleaded guilty Wednesday to vehicular homicide, hit-and-run and drug possession.
Then Superior Court Judge Stephanie Arend sentenced him to 53.5 months — about four and a half years — as part of a Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative.
That means he’ll serve half the time in prison and half on probation — as long as he follows other conditions, such as participating in substance abuse treatment.
It’s the sentence that both the defense and Pierce County prosecutors recommended.
Rainwater’s daughter, Leah Miller, told the court that a couple years behind bars didn’t seem long enough.
She said her mother made her love known.
“You knew every single day what you meant to her,” Miller said.
Addressing Simon, Miller said: “Do better. Be better. Live a better life.”
Defense attorney Michael Stewart said Simon worked long, hard hours as a carpenter and that he’d been seeking substance abuse treatment.
He drove while extremely tired Aug. 9, fell asleep and hit what he thought was a mailbox along state Route 7 near 320th Street East. Then he looked back and saw a bicycle, panicked and fled.
He had heroin in his possession when he was arrested a few days later.
Simon told the judge that he felt horrible and couldn’t imagine the Rainwater family’s loss.
“I never meant to hurt anybody,” he said. “... I want nothing more than to be better.”
Arend noted that there’s some disagreement about the Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative, regarding the effectiveness of court-ordered treatment.
The judge said she thinks there’s a better chance of success in the program when the person wants treatment.
The fact that Simon had a treatment report from July, prior to the wreck, “speaks volumes to me,” Arend said. “... He’s not looking for an easy way out.”
She said the wreck was a tragic way for Rainwater’s family “to lose someone who was clearly a bright and shining star in their lives.”
Outside court, Rainwater told The News Tribune that his wife showed horses and bred Arabian show horses.
She was a national champion in Canada and the United States, he said.
She also liked tending to her rose gardens and had been running her husband’s insurance company in recent years.
And she took care of him.
“I was always worried about her, and she was always worried about me,” Rainwater said.