Kayla Schmidt will spend the next six years in prison for a mistake she couldn’t fix.
Schmidt, 24, was sentenced Friday in Pierce County Superior Court, after pleading guilty to vehicular homicide.
On Feb. 8, after downing an unclear number of drinks in Puyallup, she drove a Dodge Ram pickup, ran a red light and plowed into the side of a Honda sedan, killing Jose Luiz Gonzalez-Olaguez, 46, who was on his way home from work.
She entered a guilty plea Friday, and listened as grieving family members spoke.
“My heart is aching,” said Maria Lopez, the victim’s former wife, who offered forgiveness to Schmidt.
“I sometimes wonder if I fall asleep, will I wake up and hear him say, ‘What’s wrong?’ But then reality hits, and I know he’s never coming back. No apology will ever bring him back.”
No words will bring my daddy back. My dad was my hero, my world. My dad’s memory will live forever, and so will the love I have for him.
Nathalee Gonzales, 16, spoke of her lost father.
“No words will bring my daddy back,” she said. “My dad was my hero, my world. My dad’s memory will live forever, and so will the love I have for him.”
Schmidt dabbed her eyes throughout the sentencing hearing, and spoke in a shaky voice.
I ruined a lot of lives. It hurts me to know that I inflicted that pain. Every day I’m stuck with this. As much as I would like to go and take it back, I can’t. All there is for me is to learn from it.
“I ruined a lot of lives,” she said. “It hurts me to know that I inflicted that pain. Every day I’m stuck with this. As much as I would like to go and take it back, I can’t. All there is for me is to learn from it.”
Judge Kitty-Ann Van Doorninck accepted a sentencing recommendation agreed to by deputy prosecutor Tim Jones and defense attorney Dino Sepe: 78 months, the low end of the standard range, in keeping with a defendant who had no prior criminal convictions.
“These are always horribly tragic cases,” she said, as she pronounced the sentence and looked at Schmidt. “Your remorse is obvious. It’s a difficult thing.”