FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The semi truck driver who slammed into four vehicles stopped at a red light on U.S. 30 in July 2012 was emotional in the courtroom Friday as he was sentenced. Five people were injured in the crash at U.S. 30 and Kroemer Road and Abbie Little, 4, was killed.
As part of a plea agreement, Gary Golay was sentenced to seven years in prison, but that was suspended. He will be on probation for five years, the first two of which will be on community control “house arrest.” His license, including his commercial license, was suspected for at least five years and he has to complete 200 hours of community service. If Golay operates any motor vehicle during his probation, the probation will be revoked and he will have to go to prison.
“In talking with the families, we talked about things that were important and what they wanted to see. They wanted to see a resolution short of going to trial. They also wanted to see him accept responsibility, which he’s done. That was something very important for them, to know that he has indeed accepted responsibility and that he was apologetic,” Adam Mildred, an Allen County deputy prosecutor, said.
Golay pleaded guilty to the following charges in May:
- Reckless Homicide, Class C felony
- Eight counts of Criminal Recklessness, Class D felonies
- False Informing, Class A misdemeanor
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation Violation, Class B Infraction
Golay had told police he tried to brake before hitting the stopped vehicles, but it was too late. However, according to the court documents, the semi truck’s computer showed no braking before the crash. Receipts, gate times, and other data in the truck computer also indicated that Golay did not take his required rest time for the two-days before the crash.
“[The families] are supportive of the plea agreement terms and thankful for the law enforcement involvement,” Mildred said. “You can’t do anything to bring back a little girl. They wish is wasn’t the way it is, but they’re going to move forward and work to try to make people know about things like this. Truckers can’t blow through red lights because they’re going to kill people when they do.”
Abbie Little, her mom and her younger brother were coming home from the zoo when Golay’s semi slammed into them. Little was killed, the day before her fifth birthday. Mildred read a letter from Abbie Little’s parents in court. In it they say, “our hearts forever have an empty spot” and every day “we miss her spunky little grin and playful attitude.” Click here to read the whole letter.
While it and letters from other victims’ families were being read, Golay wiped away tears. He was also emotional when he addressed the victims and family members who were in court saying he couldn’t ask them to forgive him because he can’t forgive himself. He said he has nightmares of what happened every night and he said he’s sorry.
“His emotion in his remorse is important because that’s an indicator that he gets it and hopefully the reforms of the system will work,” Mildred said. “I don’t know that there wasn’t anybody that wasn’t affected emotionally listening to all the things that happened there today.”