on May 15, 2013 - 1:23 PM
, updated May 15, 2013 at 1:28 PM
A Lancaster man who said he was asleep at the wheel when his sport utility vehicle struck and killed a Depew teenager last summer at a bus stop was sentenced today to probation for one year.
Today’s outcome was expected. Radames Candelaria, 35, had earlier received in Depew Village Court a sentencing commitment of probation for his guilty plea to the misdemeanor reckless driving charge.
The crash killed 18-year-old Ashley Creighton, a Depew High School senior. She was waiting for a bus on the north side of Broadway near South Kokomo Street.
Candelaria told police he lost control of his SUV shortly after 7 a.m. on July 30. The vehicle veered off Broadway, hit the young woman, and then struck Penora’s Pizza on the other side of the road, causing considerable damage to the building.
He said he fell asleep on his way home from work after an 11 and 1/2-hour overnight shift.
Candelaria apologized to Creighton’s legal guardian in court.
Depew Village Justice Gordon Willis sentenced Candelaria. The probationary term includes stipulations that he not be around anyone with alcohol or drugs and not attend parties.
The most jail time Candelaria could have faced was 30 days, said Kelley A. Omel, chief of the Erie County District Attorney’s Office Vehicular Crimes Bureau.
“It’s tragic,” Omel said of the case. “It’s the judge’s decision, and I certainly respect the judge’s decision.”
Gail Thompson, Creighton’s legal guardian, had mixed emotions following the sentencing.
“Some of me doesn’t think it’s right because you hit somebody and you just get probation. But I guess that’s the way the law is,” she told The Buffalo News. “In my head, I want to hate him. But in my heart, I want to forgive him, so I can move on from this.”
In addition to probation, Candelaria faces fines. He must also attend a state Department of Motor Vehicles hearing in June regarding the status of his driver’s license.
Thompson wants his license revoked.
Candelaria has a lengthy record of convictions for minor criminal offenses.
Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita III submitted evidence in the case to a grand jury. But the grand jurors did not indict on a more serious charge, so the case was sent back to Depew Village Court.