Driver Sent To Prison For Pedestrian Death
A distracted driver who accidentally killed a six-year-old girl will go to prison. 32-year-old Justin Piersall hit Jessalyn Sanders last May when she suddenly crossed the street. He told police he was reaching for his cell phone and did not see the child. The News On 6's Chris Wright reports the family of the girl is ready to move forward.
Piersall pleaded guilty to negligent homicide, and will serve one year for that crime. He will also serve an additional six years for drug and gun-related convictions.
"It was better than what I expected at all. I finally feel that someone heard Jessa's voice," said Jessalyn's mother, Donna Sanders.
It has been nearly 10 months since Donna Sanders six-year-old daughter was hit by Justin Piersall's truck. The driver admitted he was reaching to answer his cell phone, and never saw Jessalyn. Now that Piersall has been sentenced to a total of seven years, Donna finally feels ready to begin putting her life back together.
"I think about her all the time. But maybe now we can go on and try to live as normal life as possible," said Jessalyn's mother, Donna Sanders.
Under Oklahoma law, the maximum sentence for negligent homicide is only one year. The majority of Piersall's time behind bars will be for a separate, drug-related conviction.
Donna, who now lives in Okmulgee with her son, Wayne, still believes that negligent homicide should carry a heavier sentence.
"That's not enough for somebody's life. That's nowhere near enough," said Jessalyn's mother, Donna Sanders.
She also continues to worry about distracted drivers.
In Oklahoma, there is no law against talking on your cell phone while in the car, and Donna says it will only take an instant for someone else to lose their child.
"I hope and pray that it never happens to anyone ever again. But, unfortunately, it will because too many people don't pay attention," said Jessalyn's mother, Donna Sanders.
Donna says after the sentencing, Piersall's family did finally apologize to her and told her how sorry they are for her loss.
She says that meant the world to her.
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