(WSVN) - Police say a teen behind the wheel took the life of a South Florida father. Tonight, the victim’s family tells us why they are so angry about what happened next. 7’s Brian Entin investigates.
A car full of family and friends was driving through an intersection in Northwest Miami-Dade when, in an instant, their world changed forever.
Melissa Kendrick, husband killed in car crash: “He didn’t stop. And it slammed right into us.”
Miami-Dade Police say a 17-year-old in an SUV ran the red light, slamming into a Nissan Altima.
Marquise Givson, survived car crash: “I was about to fall asleep, but I opened my eyes. And that’s when the car hit us, and I blacked out.”
The four people sitting on this couch were in the mangled Altima.
They survived the crash that happened one year ago this month, but were badly hurt.
Lesroy Nichols, survived car crash: “Fractured ribs. Punctured lung. Broken pelvic bone. Internal bleeding.”
Lesroy Nichols was in the hospital for more than a month.
The 14-year-old remembers his mom coming to his hospital bed telling him his dad, who was in the backseat, didn’t make it.
Lesroy Nichols: “Shocking, because I didn’t really remember anything.”
Melissa Kendrick: “This is a man who has always been there for us no matter what.”
A husband and father … killed.
Four others, left to pick up the pieces, including more than $1 million in medical bills.
And then … a letter came in the mail from the State Attorney’s Office.
The 17-year-old who police say caused the crash was not being criminally charged.
Melissa Kendrick: “There is no justice.”
The decision was certainly shocking to the family. They couldn’t understand how someone who changed their lives so much wasn’t going to be punished. All the teen got was a traffic ticket for running a red light.
Debra Moss, survived car crash: “He shouldn’t just get a slap on the wrist because he killed someone!”
But the law is not on the family’s side.
Killing someone is not always a crime.
Ed Griffith, Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office: “The difference is between what the law defines as reckless, and what the law defines as careless.”
Traffic homicide investigators questioned the teen and determined he wasn’t drinking or on drugs … and wasn’t texting.
Prosecutors say running the red light was careless, but the teen had no criminal intent. And there must be intent to charge someone with reckless driving or vehicular homicide.
Ed Griffith: “Every death is an insufferable tragedy. They all are, but they are not all crimes.”
On top of it all, the teen driver had minimal insurance, leaving the four survivors with piles of bills.
Debra Moss: “Everybody makes mistakes but … ugh. We have to suffer for everybody’s mistakes, too. And I’m suffering for it.”
It’s suffering they live with every day.
Meanwhile, the teen is fighting the ticket for running the light, pleading not guilty in traffic court.
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