Teen Pleads to Reckless Driving in Fatal Crash

by ARLnow.com September 20, 2011 at 11:01 am 11,673 121 Comments

An 18-year-old Arlington man has pleaded guilty to reckless driving after a crash that killed a 28-year-old woman and her dog near Washington-Lee High School.

Joseph DiFilippo pleaded guilty in Arlington General District Court on Aug. 25, prosecutors say. He was sentenced to 12 months in jail, but the entirety of the jail term was suspended on the condition of good behavior and the completion of 200 hours of community service. DiFilippo is also required to speak about his actions before monthly driver’s license presentation ceremonies held at the Arlington County courthouse. Additionally, his driver’s license was suspended six months, the maximum allowed by state law.

“Pursuant to a plea agreement, three other traffic infractions were dismissed,” said Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jennifer Clarke. She noted that DiFilippo had a valid driver’s license at the time of the accident, despite an initial charge of driving without a license.

Members of the victim’s family were present at the sentencing hearing, and testified about how the accident impacted their lives, Clarke said.

The accident occurred around 7:30 a.m. on Monday, April 11, as 28-year-old Arlington resident Alison Drucker was walking her dog across the Quincy Street Bridge. A statement of facts was not entered as part of the plea, but after the accident police said that a pickup truck driven by DiFilippo struck Drucker and her dog, Buckley, as the truck was traveling northbound on Quincy Street. The dog died at the scene and Drucker suffered a serious head injury. She died in the hospital two weeks later.

Prosecutors say the plea deal’s lack of jail time was a reflection of the evidence in the case.

“The charge brought against the defendant and the plea agreement which was reached was based upon extensive consideration of the evidence. Some cases are stronger than others and we are limited by the unique facts and evidence of each case,” Clarke said. “After consideration of the facts of this case, the case law which has interpreted and applied the Virginia reckless driving statute, and our burden of proof, we concluded that the plea agreement was appropriate.”

“As prosecutors, our decisions must be based upon the law and the evidence,” Clarke added. “However, as people, our hearts go out to the Alison Drucker’s family. The plea agreement should in no way be seen as a reflection of the great sympathy we have for the Drucker family and the loss which they have suffered.”

  • Tim

    So he killed someone and isn’t going to jail at all?

    • Tabby

      Because we’re only out for blood when someone has had a couple of drinks. I always tell people who are blase about having had a drink or two that if someone darts out in the road, even if YOUR driving is excellent/engaged/etc.–you’re screwed–whereas if someone is sober but is driving aggressively/distracted/otherwise incompetent and irresponsible–well, at least they weren’t drinking so here’s your slap on the wrist.

      • JamesE

        If you are a cop you can drink and drive all you want and your buddies left you off

      • Fatty

        Was the driver drunk? I didn’t see anything saying that. Was the pedestrian in the roadway or did the truck veer off the road into the pedestrian? It looks from the markings in the photo that the woman and her dog were in the road. I’m not saying who is at fault I’m just trying to figure out the facts.

        • Fatty

          Oh I completely misread your comment. I suck.

        • Leslie

          He wouldn’t have been sentenced if they were in the road.

      • BB

        Spoken like a true drunk.

    • soarlslacker

      Yeah! It makes me sick. Could they at least show a photo of this driver and his vehicle…so the rest of us can stay as far away as possible?

      • Josh S

        Are you kidding? Does he have leprosy or something? I don’t think there ever was even a little bit of a thought that this was homicide. It was an accident.
        My guess is the guy is already feeling about as much anguish and guilt as any time in prison would instill.
        And nothing will change the anguish and pain felt by the family. Send him away for life – they’re still left without their loved one and will still be unbelievably sad as a result.

        • soarlslacker

          No. Not kidding at all. Leprosy would be better than being so stupid that you can’t drive a car without killing a woman and a dog. Yes, it is called an accident, but it is a homocide. The woman and the dog are dead. The idiot driver is alive and not in jail. At least in jail he could not drive and kill more pedestrians and pets.

          • English major

            Homocide? Is that when you kill a gay person?

          • CW

            I’m glad you can make jokes about my cousin’s death.
            And to all of the other morons commenting on this thread:
            You have absolutely nothing to do with her or our family. We don’t care to see what you said, if it’s idiotic and rude. Her mom and sister aren’t reading this, and I hope they never have to, considering I’m only her cousin and your comments bring me to tears

  • Steve

    Driver’s license presentation ceremonies?


    Is this part of that everyone is a hero thing these days? Do they wear caps and gowns at these ceremonies?

    • Hero, and Legend in my Own Mind

      I know, right? Makes me sick, these poseurs!

    • Lou

      Actually, Henry Hudson spoke at my driver’s license ceremony, to a room of about 20 kids at the courthouse. He scared the p!ss out of us.

      Also, doubt he would have sought the same outcome in this case as his successors.

    • Lvguy

      It’s a Virginia thing. Katie Couric spoke at mine

      • Mom

        The license ceremony is a Virginia thing, and it’s a good idea. I think it’s only for drivers under 18, but I could be wrong about that. I went with my 16 year old. Usually there is a speech by the judge and maybe the sherrif and the Commonwealth attorney. There is a sort of stern lecture of the “driving is a privilege not a right” variety and then a lame, dated, video introduced by a much younger Katie Couric. That said, I give them an A for effort. They are just trying to instill in these kids that they have responsibilities when they get behind the wheel. My son walked out snickering that he is the “captain of his ship,” something that came up in the video. But I think he got something out of it.

        Having Joseph di Filippo speak to these groups would make an incredibly strong statement. If he can get through it. I can’t imagine what this kid is going through. It was a bad mistake, a bad driving move (was he trying to roll up his window or something? I’ve seen no mention of texting or substance abuse or anything).

        I’ve thought about this accident a lot. My daughter goes to W-L. She often walks there. In fact her bus passed the scene of the accident shortly after it occured. They saw a body under a sheet (must have been the dog). I teared up every time I drove over those orange lines.

        I read some things about Allison online – I didn’t know her, but I have known many like her. In fact, she’s not so different from me twenty years ago. The thought that one bad swerve, one mistake from a licensed but inexperienced driver, is all it took to end her hopes and dreams, haunts me.

        But we need to leave off the snarky comments about her, about him, about the whole situation, because basically it’s a tragedy for all involved. If something can come of it, if one teenager is scared out of his or her cockiness in having a new license, then that’s a good thing. Maybe it will give someone comfort.

        Have some compassion people.

        • V Dizzle


        • SouthArlJD

          Thank you for a thoughtful, compassionate comment. For the snarkish and uninformed we always have licensing ceremonies for new drivers under 18 in Virginia. It’s an effort to make young drivers think before they do something stupid or careless which could result in life-changing tragedy.

          This teenager made a stupid decision that day to drive without too much care. I remember from the first discussions in this forum about this accident that some people suggested he might not have realized he was going up on the sidewalk because of the configuration of sidewalk to street on the bridge, and that might have been a factor in allowing him to plead to a much lower offense than manslaughter. This is not to say he’s getting off scot free. This young man must live for the rest of his life with the knowledge that a few moments of inattention or exuberance or inability to recognize the danger were enough to kill another human being. It’s a terrible burden for him to bear and no one should think that it means any less to him than a few months in jail. Having to appear at licensing ceremonies and talk about what happened will be much harder than it sounds. He’ll be asked questions, the young drivers and their parents will look at him with emotions ranging from morbid curiosity to outrage, and he will have to relive the day over and over again. There’s nothing easy or nonpunitive about what he’s being asked to do. Each time he talks about what happened he’ll have to remember and take responsibility for it. In a year or two he might find himself wishing he’d had the jail time instead. At least he has the potential to stop others from doing the same. Perhaps he’ll save some lives.

        • Mom

          One more thing: I have a now 17 year old, a 15 year old about to get her permit, and a 14 year old. There but for the Grace of God…..they could be the victim or the perpetrator…..scares the hell out of me.

        • Cate

          This is pretty much the perfect comment. I feel so bad for the family of the victim and for the kid who hit her. That is never, ever going to leave him.

  • soarlslacker

    Wow! This appears to be a very light punishment for killing a woman and her dog. There must have been very weak evidence. It appears the worst penaly this person will face is high auto insurance rates. I hope there is eoungh evidence for a civil case.

  • KalashniKEV

    I’m glad I live in a place with such progressive, liberal sensibilities.

    What are they going to sentence the Bank Robber to? Listening to 15 minutes of the Whitlow’s Trivia Announcer?

    • Richard Cranium

      Worse – Pee Wee’s Oldies at Jays!

    • drax

      Do you ever read before you post? Or even think? You really believe prosecutors are a bunch of liberals who sit around trying to figure out how to get lighter sentences for criminals?

      • KalashniKEV

        It’s for the children.

      • Narlington

        For some crimes yes they do and age is a factor. This kid was young and it was his first offense but I still think he should have gotten jail time.

    • Mike O’Meara

      Move to Manassas then

      • KalashniKEV

        If I did and someone killed my sister or GF there, at least they would be penalized in some way.

        • drax

          Please post the median jail sentences for traffic homicides in Arlington and Manassas, since you seem to know them.

        • Manassass

          “my sister or girlfriend” that’s alternative nomenclature for the same individual? You’ fit right in there.

  • Kirk

    Can someone explain to me exactly what happened here? The outline of the body appears to be in the road. Was she standing in the road when he hit her? If so, why was she not on the sidewalk, or even on the shoulder of the road? What was “reckless” about his driving? None of the stories I’ve seen answer these questions.

    • Greg

      I think you hit the nail on the head. No one here knows what happened. Obviously this isn’t as cut and dry as some are making it out to be.

    • J

      He jumped the curb and hit her as she was walking her dog on the sidewalk. The impact of the hit moved her body from the sidewalk to the road. She was following all pedestrian protocol, and the reckless driving can be attributed to the fact that he was unable to control his vehicle to the point where it went onto the sidewalk.

      Does this answer your questions? And for the record, these are actual facts, not speculation.

      • For the record, here’s what Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Clarke said about this:

        “The police were unable to determine the exact location of the victim at the time of impact.”

        • I bet the driver knew. So, that would imply the police were not able to extract that information from him. He may plea guilty, and feel guilty, but the doesn’t want to be punished as guilty….otherwise he’d have given up the info.

          • Lou

            Good point. Apparently there is only one living eyewitness to this accident. If the prosecution could not prove the location of the victims, that means the one eyewitness did not provide that info.

            Yay lawyers!

          • Burger

            That darn 5th Amendment. Always complicating our need for blood.

          • Lou

            I respect the Constitutional protections against self-incrimination. I also respect someone who would stand up and do the right thing to bring closure to everyone in an accident such as this.

        • J

          Ha. Just because the police were unable to determine anything doesn’t quite make for a powerful statement.

          • Kirk

            So, if the police were unable to determine that she was on the sidewalk, how is it that you WERE able to determine that she was.

          • The point is, if the police were not able to determine it, the driver did not give up that info. He is the one certain eyewitness.

          • J

            An eye witness account stated that the driver of the vehicle lost control of the car and jumped the curb just before the intersection at Quincy and Washington Blvd. The police may just not have been able to pinpoint the detailed track of the out-of-control vehicle, and where the exact point of impact was when he killed Alison and Buckley.

            I’m tired of people jumping to the conclusion that Alison acted irresponsibly by walking in the street or crossing without checking to see if it was safe. She was very intelligent and careful – not only with regards to her own life but to the well being of her dog’s as well. I’d like to defend the memory of the deceased and represent her as the smart human being that she was.

            Any of you would be lucky to have someone as bright and caring as her in your life. Hopefully if you do, you’ll never have to suffer through reading through people trashing their memory.

          • CW

            No one said she acted irresponsibly. The above poster simply pointed out the absence of official, on the record facts in the case. That seems to be what drove the prosecutors to accept this plea, and, unfortunately, it is also what is driving the various speculation seen here.

          • J

            My response was to Kirk, who had earlier written:

            “Was she standing in the road when he hit her? If so, why was she not on the sidewalk, or even on the shoulder of the road? What was “reckless” about his driving?”

    • John Fontain

      It looks to be exactly what I originally said on April 11th based on the photographic evidence:


      “Based on the spraypainted car path and victim locations in the two photographs, it appears:

      1. the car was heading northbound and hopped the curb of the sidewalk on the bridge (on the southeast corner)
      2. the woman and her dog were walking on the east sidewalk of the bridge
      3. simultaneously: a) the woman jumped off the sidewalk with dog in tow and into the street portion of the bridge to avoid the oncoming car on the sidewalk and b) the car then swerved left to get off the sidewalk and avoid the woman and dog.
      4. the car hit the woman and dog in the street.”

      In any case, sympathies again to the victims family. I believe the driver should have received a substantially greater punishment. At least he admitted to what he did.

  • shocked

    Wow that is disgusting! He killed a young woman and her dog and he was driving without a licence according to the previous reports. There surely should be some jail time.
    Police in Arlington care nothing about peds obviously.

    • Common Sense

      Police have nothing to do with the sentencing. The Prosecutors are the ones who make the plea bargain.

    • CW

      Yes, but oftentimes the abilities of the parties to pursue criminal or civil actions are hindered by the failure of the police on the scene to properly document important evidence. I’ve seen it firsthand.

    • WTF

      Shocked your an idiot who cant read. He had a valid license. The initial charge of driving without one was incorrect and was dropped. Learn to read.

      Also… while i do agree he got off pretty light for killing someone, there was no intent in his actions. He was not drunk, or on drugs, and was not speeding according to the cops. He simply lost control of his vehicle and it hopped the curb. Sadly there was a person walking there at the time and she was hit. Its an accident plain and simple, and im sure the guy feels guilty as hell and will forever be affected by it.

      As such, i think folks need to shut the hell up in terms of blaming 1 side or the other. It was a tragic accident, nothing more.. nothing less.

      • Have you ever…

        “He simply lost control of his vehicle and it hopped the curb.”

        Have you ever randomly lost control of your vehicle to go as far as to “simply” jump a curb?? The only times I’ve EVER known someone this happened to or that they’ve seen it happen is if the other person is impaired or something else caused them to do this (distracted them maybe)… texting, changing a radio station, looking for a fast food straw OR if there was another car involved that may have swerved into his lane, etc. Regardless he’d have to be speeding to have it happen that quickly and powerfully… which But if they can’t prove anyone else was involved to say that he “simply lost control” and JUMPED A CURB like it could casually happen to anyone.

        You’re entitled to think this is nothing more or less and think this is a casual thing that could happen to anyone on the road, but my opinion and that of a lot of other folks here is that it doesn’t happen to just anyone… there’s always a reason and someone needs to find out how this really happened and what went wrong. Telling people to “shut the hell up” doesn’t make your opinion of making this so casual anymore valid.

        • CW

          Look at all the people who have driven through storefronts in the past few months.

          If someone was standing in front of any one of those stores, this story could have been repeated.

          Look at all the stories on ARLnow of people spinning out on 395 in the rain. What if someone was standing on the side of the road?

          People do careless, but not necessarily ill-intentioned or criminal, things that result in loss of control all the time.

      • Jackfan

        Hey WTF – next time you call anyone an idiot you might want to learn how to spell and use appropriate grammar in the process. Fool…

  • Ray

    I think this is a tough call.

    The kid is 18. Teenagers do dumb things, especially behind the wheel. If this process results in him being a safe driver for the rest of his life, the plea bargain seems like a reasonable thing.

    • Dave

      He killed somebody. “Dumb things” means smoking weed or spray painting your high school.

      • Cakes

        You don’t get it.

      • Ray

        He made a mistake. A tragic one.

      • Lou

        Stop harshing my buzz, Dave.

      • WTF

        Hey dave… people die in accidents all the time. The kid wasnt drunk, nor on drugs, or even speeding. He simply wasnt skilled enough to handle the vehicle he was driving yet and a tragic accident occurred.

        • We all accidently drove up onto sidewalks all the time as a kid when we were learning to drive.

          • Have you ever…

            Thanks… glad I’m not the only one who thinks WTF is making this sound like running up over curbs happens to every new driver and “simply” losing control is just part of learning to drive…

          • Jackfan

            WTF has no clue. He can’t even string a cohesive sentence together.

  • Henry

    Wow. Joe and I were good friends for a few years; I had heard that something like this happened.

    I’m torn between being happy that he got a light punishment and wondering if that sends the right message. It should be known that Joe is a good guy though, and I’m sure he is constantly paying a heavy emotional price.

    Thoughts go out to the victim’s family

    • AJ

      this didn’t happen on its own. he did it. i could care less about his current emotional state. he killed someone. end of story. I hope the rest of his life is short.

      • drax

        Death penalty!

      • Henry

        Summary: You’re a dick. Wishing death on someone for what was ultimately an accident on his part is overboard. Assuming the point of punishing someone for crimes they commit is to make sure those crimes don’t happen again (to “rehabilitate” them), his mental state makes all the difference. Sending him to prison for twenty years doesn’t help anything.

        • Tabby

          I agree.

  • Frank

    People — please read the article carefullly before making any knee-jerk reactions to news of the plea bargain. The DA’s office clearly did not have the evidence they thought would be necessary to win a conviction on more serious charges. Would you rather they have brought the case only to end up with a full jury acquittal?

    • 200 hours of community service is NOT the penalty for killing a person and her dog no matter the circumstances given the guilty plea.

      He should be required to serve jail time, so he can get the sense of the seriousness of his actions and where he will be for a long time if it happens again. Plus, he needs the experience of jail to educate others about what it is like.

      He should be required to actively and regularly participate in reckless driving education, INCLUDING the experience of being incarcerated, for years to come. This will help him contribute to preventing these types of things from happening.

      He should be required to regularly participate in some kind of animal rescue or assistance group. This will help him realize the companion animal life is also important and should make him an overall safer person. A dog group would be appropriate since the victim was a dog.

      • Lvguy

        Unfortunately we have the Bill of Rights which requires evidence. In this case it let a man go relatively free for a serious mistake. You can’t jail someone because you’re angry at them. It’s a tragedy, but necessary to keep us a civil society.

        • Wilbur

          How much evidence do you need? He was there. He did it. His truck, if I recall, was up on the sidewalk. Res Ipsa Loquitor. Unless the kid was having a heart attack, this is involuntary manslaughter at minimum.

        • The evidence was a wrecked car, damage to the sidewalk, the body of a woman and a dog in the street. Oh, and a guilty plea to being reckless.

          Given the reckless driving conviction and two dead beings, the penalty is not harsh enough. Period.

          • Josh S

            Ah yes, the world is black and white. There are no nuances. And ARLnow readers are fully informed of all relevant facts relating to this case.
            I will sleep like a baby tonight knowing these things to be true.

          • And you know as much as anyone else. Sleep tight.

          • LVGuy

            I’m not a lawyer, but if the prosecutors weren’t able to gather evidence to prosecute, they got a decent deal out of it. It’s better than walking free.

    • drax

      “please read the article carefullly before making any knee-jerk reactions”

      Please. This is the Internet. You’re asking way too much.

  • Wilbur

    “The plea agreement should in no way be seen as a reflection of the great sympathy we have ”

    This is absolutely disgusting.

    The prosecutor needs to grasp how disgusted the citizens of Arlington and Wash DC have become of the death trap that is being a pedestrian in this area. It would have behooved the prosecutor to be a bit more articulate about why this outcome was justified.

    Otherwise – this is just disgusting.

    • Josh S

      I think they were about as articulate as they could have been in explaining why the outcome was what it was.

      That being said, I do agree that perhaps they should have just left it at that and not made public statements about how much sympathy they have for the the victim’s family. It’s easy to see why those two things would be hard to reconcile and would possibly lead to resentment or anger.

  • CW

    I’m sorry, I’m not understanding. Was it presented anywhere in the case what actually HAPPENED? I don’t know enough about the law – is the logic that 1) a person was driving and 2) that person’s vehicle ended up hitting and killing another person sufficient to deem that they were driving “recklessly”? Is there evidence to say that he was driving recklessly? I AM NOT saying that he wasn’t driving recklessly, because he ended up hitting the victim of course, but I just don’t understand how they can make this determination without saying “the defendant did action X, which constitutes reckless driving”. The case, as presented in this article at least, seems to be absolutely devoid of fact.

    • CW

      (I guess I should add that since it was a plea agreement, they didn’t need facts. But maybe this is something that those out for blood should think about – maybe there weren’t any facts, by that I mean no explicit evidence of what he specifically did, and that is why they didn’t go further)

      • Only a dead woman and a dead dog.

        • CW

          Sigh…I knew this would be misinterpeted. What I am saying was did they have facts correlating to a specific crime. Reckless driving has a definition; it is an action that has to be performed. The presence of a victim may or may not not imply that that specific action was performed to the level needed for conviction. I am not a lawyer, nor do I purport to be one. I am simply asking. This case seems to lack factual basis as present, so I was just curious.

          • He pled guilty to reckless driving. I think you maybe are talking about manslaughter. I would guess there is some level of intent, or higher level of recklessness, that has to be proven to get that step up. That’s probably why it was pled.

          • CW

            We are now on the same page. I agree. Wasn’t as sure about the definition of reckless. I’m assuming he was given the choice of pleading for this charge or going to trial on something more severe like manslaughter. Who knows what defense he could have come up with. I am assuming that going to trial was risky for the prosecution.

  • Shelley

    He was initially charged with reckless driving, failure to maintain proper control of a vehicle, driving without a license and volation of a learner’s permit prior to the death of the woman two weeks later. That to me is reckless enough.

    • CW

      I am still just curious as to the lack of facts in this case. Can someone who knows the law explain:

      1) What’s the difference between reckless and failure to maintain control? I would think that “reckless” would require intent, like going out joyriding, whereas failure to maintain control could be accidental or due to distraction.

      2) Would the latter two charges/facts, i.e. that he didn’t have a license/permit, be material and admissible with respect to and reckless driving case?

      • slapa

        Reckless doesn’t require any kind of intent. In Virginia, there’s a host of offenses that can result in a reckless driving charge. Simply speeding over 80 mph, no matter the speed limit (yes, even including the sections on 81 and 66 that have 70 mph limits), is reckless driving. Things like changing lanes or turning without signalling are also considered reckless driving.


        • drax

          Turning without signaling? Half of Northern Va. is guilty of that.

          • Indicators

            Don’t be ridiculous.

            It’s WAY more than half.

  • Roquer

    This sure goes to prove two things: 1) you’d best watch out for yourself as a pedestrian. (2) Even if you’re perfectly right as a pedestrian, a 4000 pound missile will hurt you far more than you’ll hurt the missile.

  • Bob

    Probably enough evidence for a civil suit. This kid and his family could be in for a bad time if the victim’s family goes that route.

    • Virginia^2

      And that is absolutely something to consider as to whether this kid gets “sufficiently” punished. For example, OJ may have been acquitted, but essentially his entire fortune has gone, and whatever he will ever make will go to satisfy the civil judgment against him.

      Society labels OJ a murderer, anyway; we don’t need the courts to do it. Same thing goes for this kid, as far as I’m concerned. Any employer with whom he ever applies will just Google his name – he might as well be a convict.

      • Maria

        mur·der [mur-der]
        Law . the killing of another human being under conditions specifically covered in law. In the U.S., special statutory definitions include murder committed with malice aforethought, characterized by deliberation or premeditation or occurring during the commission of another serious crime, as robbery or arson (first-degree murder), and murder by intent but without deliberation or premeditation (second-degree murder).

        • Virginia^2

          “Same thing goes for this kid” as in, people will impute the crime to him that the prosecutor did not want to risk trying to prove.

          I know the difference between murder and manslaughter, thank you very much.

  • WTF

    A lot of idiots in this thread. If you read the official report along with news reports:

    1: He had a valid drivers license. The initial charge was incorrect and was dropped.

    2: Reckless driving is a vague charge, but in this case refers to the fact that he lost control of his vehicle due to a particular reason (like using a cell phone) and drove it onto a sidewalk. He was NOT speeding according to the police. This goes along with the failure to control charge. There was no information on what the initial reason was for the loss of control, but as i stated, there was never a speeding charge of any sort.

    3: He was not drunk, not on drugs, and not impaired in that way.

    This was a pure case of a young inexperienced kid driving a car he couldnt handle, and making a mistake in driving which unfortunately lead to the death of a person. There are cases like this all over the US day in and day out sadly. Most of the time the end result is similar to this one, with a short jail sentence, often suspended on certain conditions the person must meet, and various types of community service. This is because there was never “intent” of any sort on the persons part, and because the person was legally operating the vehicle they were driving when the accident occurred.

    Its a sad situation, and he did get off a little light, but in the end no one should be surprised at the outcome and im sure just like the family is suffering, this will haunt him forever.

    • charlie

      thanks for being rational.
      it does suck. it was an accident.
      i know that the Arlington prosecutor is very aggressive and will go after whatever charges were appropriate and would stick.
      Our courts are fantastic.
      It is very obvious that the general public doesn’t have all the facts that are available to the prosecutor.
      They would never let this off unless it was the only option.

    • dk

      Thank you for this reasonable summary. The vitriol expressed here makes me really sad. There is not one person here who has not looked away from the road to tune the radio, dig for a ringing cell phone, locate a cup of coffee, yell at children fighting in the backseat, ogle a woman on the sidewalk, rubberneck, or any one of a million things that distract people on a daily basis. There is not anyone here who has not driven while exhausted, grief-stricken, stressed out about work, or suffering a migraine. Is there any one alive who hasn’t done something stupid that COULD have harmed or killed someone, but didn’t? This young man MADE A MISTAKE. If no one had been on the bridge, he would have driven into the bridge barrier and we would have had a rousing debate on the hazards of teen drivers. That this woman and her dog were tragically unlucky does not change the driver’s error into intent. He is not a “murderer.”

      My sincere condolences to this woman’s family and friends.

      • I don’t think anyone believes he meant to kill this woman and/or her dog. Nobody believes that was his intent, so by definition he is not a murderer. The debate is over whether the punishment fits the crime, which is not murder.

        • Runaway Train

          AJ does

        • dk

          My point is that many people on this thread seem intent on extracting a pound of flesh from this young man, for something that could happen to anyone. It seems many are arguing he should be sent to jail for–what? a year? two? ten? Is that fair payment for someone’s life? Of course not. And yet how would society or this woman’s family benefit from incarcerating him? What could possibly be gained? At least through public service, he can do some good.

  • Danger

    I’d comment again, but my prior one was deleted it seems. Probably because I raised a safety issue about the bridge and pedestrian traffic that didn’t involve any mudslinging….

  • BoredHouseWife

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    they need to put civics back in HS.

    • Mike O’Meara

      Are you bald?

      • BlueSkies

        Tore her hair out while reading this thread.

    • drax

      Make it so!

    • MB

      Oh, look. CP on the internet.

  • ArlForester

    Good thing all this kid did was kill a woman and her dog. Had he driven drunk and injured no one, his sentence would have been much worse. /sarcasm+anger

    • ArlForester

      I can guarandamntee you that the woman who drove drunk and merely injured an police officer is going to receive a sentence ten times this one.

      • charlie

        you are correct.
        21 year old vs. 18 year old
        drunk vs sober
        drugs vs no drugs
        2 am vs 10 am
        it adds up.

        • Ricardo

          But you left out alive vs dead, which might outweigh all the others, even added up…

          • charlie

            good point, but no it doesn’t.

            you run into a police car while drunk you will get a worse sentence then reckless driving.

          • CW

            Ricardo, you and the others bringing the death into it are missing the point. Unless there is premeditation or some action taken which constitutes manslaughter, then all he can be given is a reckless charge. The fact that someone was in his path when he lost control is, as I understand it, immaterial, as crazy as it that may sound. What he pled so is recklessly losing control of the vehicle. He did not plead guilty to killing someone. The prosecutors know that there was no evidence of intent or actions so grossly criminal as to constitute manslaughter, so that is why they went with the reckless charge. I am not a lawyer but this is what I have taken away.

            Everyone wants to attack this kid because he was a kid. How many $60k+ cars have you seen with their lawyer drivers reading their blackberries while driving? Too many for me to count. Every last one of them could have done what this kid did.

            This is an extremely tragic accident, but an accident nonetheless. What we can all learn from this is to be reminded that things we think of as being minor mistakes that we usually get away with can end up having immense unintended consequences.

          • charlie

            i was thinking about this last night.
            maybe he lost control after hitting the jogger — failure to maintain control of the vehicle — and that the subsequent incidents

            still sad.

          • dk


  • charlie

    if you are drunk and kill someone you can also get off with a light sentence. Not as light, but still light.
    but if you are on drugs and kill someone, you are going to prison forever.

    There are great injustices in our laws in this state. These laws provide value judgements on a life and they also place value judgements on how a life was taken. It is very unfair.

    of course we are still allowing our state to execute people on behalf of the community. that isn’t really fair either.

  • Clarendon

    A tragic situation all around. The facts of this case aren’t clear as there are no impartial witnesses, but the guy was charged with reckless. I think a good punishment in cases like this would be to require the driver to do a public service announcement that is broadcast where they descibe their remorse at driving recklessly that led to the death of another person. The only way to reduce the chances of these occurances is if people are always thinking about the consequences of driving while distracted or in an unsafe way.

  • Stillwell

    What I think is ridiculous about this is that this kid KILLED someone and their dog and is receiving NO JAIL TIME!

    I struck a parked car in Arlington County, and reported the accident the following morning, after leaving a note, and still was charged with a hit and run and sentenced to 10 days in jail.

    So he’s a killer and walks free. I’m a responsible citizen and go to jail. Wow.

  • Bill

    I’m curious to know why a statement of facts was left out of the plea deal – does anyone have insight as to why that occurred? My heart goes out to Alison, Buckley and her loved ones. And, I hope the young man who now has a second chance, lives a life devoted to making this world as great a place as Alison and Buckley did while they were here…

    • DC

      Hey, you and I have the same philosophy about this.

      Good on you dude, yr probably pretty smart and pretty badass.



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