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Man responsible for 2009 accident deaths sentenced

The pain felt after the loss of a loved one can feel unbearable, but imagine that pain amplified after the loss of two family members at once. That is exactly what happened to one Pittsburg family when a mother and daughter were senselessly killed in a tragic car accident in 2009.

The Galena man responsible for their deaths was sentenced to two concurrent life terms recently. He was convicted of one count of fleeing police and two counts of first-degree murder. He will be eligible for parole in 2026.

Family members of the two victims made tearful statements at the sentencing hearing. One family member described her life now as being broken, lost, destroyed and not knowing how she "was going to take another breath."

The 25-year-old defendant was trying to outrun police when the accident occurred; striking the vehicle the victims were traveling in. The mother, 41, succumbed to her injuries three days after the accident. The daughter, age 13, died at the scene of the tragedy.

According to sources, the defendant was described by family members as being a "messed-up kid." Since a young age he was exposed to excessive drug and alcohol use in both his mother and father's separate households.

While the judge hearing the case acknowledged the defendant's troubled past, he asserted that there is no excuse for such a "reckless act."

Last year the family of the two victims pursued a wrongful death suit against the driver responsible for their loss. The husband/father of the victims was awarded $5.7 million in damages. While compensation for the loss of a loved one can never heal a broken-hearted family, it can help offset final medical bills, funeral expenses and even a loss of income that once contributed to the household finances.

Source: The Joplin Globe, "Galena man sentenced to concurrent life terms in traffic accident deaths," Roger McKinney, May 31, 2012

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