RALEIGH, N.C. — In November, six people who stopped to help at an accident scene were killed when they were struck by a van. Friday, the man accused of plowing into the crowd while drunk took responsibility for his actions in an emotional day in court.
In front of a packed courtroom, Larry Veeder, 32, pleaded guilty to six counts of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. He received a sentence of no fewer than 8 years, 2 months in jail and no more than 10 years, 9 months.
Six people died, and two others were injured when they were run over by Veeder's van while assisting with an earlier car accident at the intersection of Nowell and Chapel Hill roads in Raleigh on Nov. 1.
Dennis Bowes, Bryan Tutor, Nolan Myers, Christopher Clemons, Robert Alfaro and Gene Marie Lousie Alfaro died.
"I don't hate you," Clemons' niece, Shauna, told Veeder in court. "I hate what you've done. This situation makes you think: Do you be a Good Samaritan, or look the other way?"
Veeder admitted to drinking all day before plowing into the crowd. His attorney said it was an intentional choice for Veeder to drink and drive, but he never meant to harm anyone.
"I can tell you that he's extremely sorry for what has happened," attorney Rick Gammon said.
Said a weeping Veeder: "All these people were doing something good, trying to help. I love people like that."
Before Veeder was sentenced, victims' family members had the chance to tell the judge how their lives have changed since the accident.
"Those first few days were a blur," said Mandy Tutor, Bryan Tutor's wife. "I do remember having to pick out a suit for my 29-year-old husband to be buried in."
Terrie Myers, who lost her only son, a student at Campbell University, said she has been haunted by her thoughts.
'Did you see headlights coming?'" she said, trying to picture her son's final moments. "Did you feel terror? Did you feel pain?'"
Myers' husband, Philip, said he wants to forgive Veeder. Myers has offered Nolan's tuition fund to help rehabilitate Veeder.
"There's nothing that's going to bring our son back," Philip Myers said. "I think you have to look at a solution instead of revenge."
More than 100 friends and family members were in the courtroom. The judge listened to their stories throughout the day before deciding on a sentence.
Veeder reportedly has been suicidal and on antidepressants. One of his friends told WRAL that Veeder did not care how long his sentence would be, that the worse day of his life was that day in November.
"It was a horrible accident," Veeder said. "I've been sitting in jail trying to think of words. There are no words to say I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."