NEWPORT, Ind. (AP) – A western Indiana man charged in a pickup truck crash that killed three teens will avoid prison and have his driving privileges suspended for four years under a plea agreement accepted by a judge Thursday.
Ethan Lee, 20, of Cayuga pleaded guilty to three counts of criminal recklessness and will serve 80 days in jail and three years of home detention.
Lee was a senior at North Vermillion High School when his pickup traveling as fast as 87 mph crashed on Jan. 2, 2015, into an office building in Cayuga, about 35 miles north of Terre Haute. The crash killed 18-year-old Annie Clark and 16-year-old Caroline Clark, sisters from Muncie, and 18-year-old Braeden Hollowell of Cayuga.
Lee and Hollowell were classmates and friends who played football together on the 2014 Class A state championship team at North Vermillion High School.
Vermillion Circuit Judge Bruce Stengle also ordered Lee to serve eight hours per month of community service at a Vermillion County animal shelter and to contact two high schools about speaking to driver education students about dangerous driving.
The plea agreement dropped six other criminal charges.
After Stengle accepted the agreement, parents of the Clark sisters and Hollowell made statements in court.
John and Jill Clark, the girls’ parents, gave emotional testimony about the loss they suffered. They said their son fears for his family whenever they get into a vehicle.
Jennifer Brown, Braeden Hollowell’s mother, said her son tried every sport he could and she recalled the football season when North Vermillion won the state championship. She said she would never forget that day.
“It’s a daily struggle to deal with this. Every plan has been dashed by his death,” Brown said.
Ethan Lee said he was “incredibly sorry” for their losses because of his actions. He said he doesn’t understand why his life was spared while those of his friends were not.