A Maryland man has finally been sentenced this week for his involvement in a 2013 crash which left one person in a coma, four injured and two dead.
Courtney Everett, the victim who had been left in a coma, woke up two months after the crash, and has finally seen some justice for her sister Brittany, 23, and friend Brittany Queen, 21. They had been driving home from a joint birthday celebration at the time of the crash.
Hayes was sentenced to six years for Brittany Everett’s death and six years for the death of Brittany Queen — a total of 12 years in prison. The Everett family stood together and cried as they watched the sentencing.
“He stole Brittany’s life from her [sister] and us,” Anaya Jamison, their aunt, said. “Courtney’s birthday will never be the same.”
After Hayes plead guilty of two counts of manslaughter in March, his attorney, Christopher A. Griffiths, said Hayes was “very remorseful” and “thinks constantly about the pain that he’s brought to so many people.” He added that his client “didn’t set out to hurt anyone that night.”
The accident happened at the intersection of Hill Road and Central Avenue in Capitol Heights, when Hayes sped through a red light — an action which is almost universally (97%) agreed on as safety threat by other drivers — and crashed into the side of the minivan carrying four women and two children. Five people were injured, including a passenger in Hayes’s car. Hayes was driving under the influence of both drugs and alcohol at the time of the crash.
Police had tried to stop Hayes because his car was suspected of involvement with a shooting earlier in the evening, but he sped away when asked to stop. His car hit speeds from 73 to 80 miles per hour, and one point he had turned off his headlights to try and hide. A study from AAA found that only 11% of automobile crashes – or one out of 10 – involve a driver who flees the scene.
“I can’t believe that you left the scene of an accident of that horrific nature,” Judge Beverly J. Woodard said in sentencing Hayes. Hayes did not speak at his sentencing.
Woodard asked, “How difficult is it to say, ‘I’m sorry’?”
Hayes’s sentence is four years above the recommended maximum for such charges. His only defense against the act was that police should not have began a pursuit at night, as his attorney brought up. After an internal investigation at the police department, Julie Parker, a spokeswoman for the county police, released a statement.
“Our routine post-incident internal investigation revealed there were some departmental violations which were appropriately addressed,” Parker said.
Queen’s family gave a statement saying that Queen had aspired to join the armed services and was two months’ pregnant at the time of the crash. Everett was working toward a master’s degree in public relations at the University of Maryland and was described as a mother figure to a number of girls without mothers of their own in the District.