BUFFALO , N.Y. (WIVB) - A driver who struck and killed a teenager in Depew will not spend time in jail. The family says the one year probation handed down to Radames Candelaria was fair by law standards, but they still say they wish there would be steeper penalties against people who fall asleep behind the wheel.
Thirty-five-year-old Radames Candelaria was quiet and somber as he walked into Depew Town Court Wednesday morning. It was back in July when the Lancaster man was heading home from working an overnight shift, when he fell asleep behind the wheel and struck and killed 18-year-old Ashley Creighton as she waited for the bus.
Candelaria told police he lost control of his SUV, hit Ashley and then crashed into a restaurant about 200 yards away. Candelaria was not under the influence, and under law the most severe jail time he could have seen according to Judge Gordon Willis was 75 days. Instead he was given one year of probation and nearly $1,200 in traffic fines and court charges.
Ashley's guardian Gail Thompson had this to say after the sentencing, "He apologized and I told him that I have to forgive him so I could stop feeling so bad inside. My mind doesn't want to forgive him but my heart has to."
While forgiving may take some time, the family hopes the prosecution of those who fall asleep behind the wheel will be more severe in the future.
Thompson said, "I do. I think there should be a law, but things are going to go in place pretty soon. We're going to see what we can do for people who fall asleep at the wheel."
Almost a year later, a memorial still stands for Ashley outside a Dairy Queen and NFTA bus stop where Ashley was waiting. Her family says they still can't drive by this section of Broadway/
News 4 asked Candelaria if he would like to say anything, he responded "I still feel awful."
Candelaria's lawyer said his client is a recovering drug addict. During his one year of probation, Candelaria must report to a probation officer and be screened for drug and alcohol use, though he was not under the influence during the accident.
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