ROCKVILLE, MD (WUSA) -- Victims' families reacted with tears and fury Friday night after a three judge panel dramatically cut the sentence for a man who admitted killing three of his friends and fleeing the scene last year in a drunk crash that killed three teens.
The panel cut the 20 year sentence imposed on Kevin Coffay in January to eight years. He will be eligible for parole as soon as next May.
Patrick Hoover, John McQuire and Doug Datt -- all fathers who lost their children in the crash last May -- said the sentence is like putting a sign out at the county limits, "drunk drivers welcome here."
Judge Terrance McGann announced the unanimous decision of the three judges. He said, "Kevin Coffay must be incarcerated, but his life should not be wasted or destroyed." He said the 20 year sentence far exceeded sentencing guidelines. And while he said there is a "culture of recklessness" and excessive drinking among teenagers, he said, "we will not place blame at Kevin's feet," for the alcohol epidemic.
Judge McGann also said that Coffay's flight was the cause of the three teens death. Coffay's lawyer said the other survivor summoned help after Coffay fled into the woods and that it medical help would not have arrived any sooner if Coffay had stayed at the scene.
Spencer Datt, 18; Haeley McGuire, 18; and Johnny Hoover, 20, all died in the crash. Charlie Nardella, 19 and Coffay were the only survivors.
When police found Coffay hours later, his blood alcohol was still .16, twice the legal limit.
Coffay again tearfully apologized to the families of his victims. His sister said Coffay is deeply remorseful, and just a shell of the happy go lucky human being he once was.
His Alcoholics Anonomous sponsor said Coffay suffers from a disease of alcohol addiction.
Written and Reported by Bruce Leshan
9News Now & wusa9.com
(WUSA) -- The sentence Kevin Coffay received for a drunk driving crash that killed three people was reconsidered on Friday.
Coffay was sentenced to 40 years with all but 20 years suspended, plus five years of probation. In February, he asked for three-judge panel to review his sentence.
In his application for review of his sentence, Coffay wrote, "The emotion in this highly public sentencing was overwhelming. I was sentenced to 40 years of incarceration, with 20 years suspended. This sentence is excessive, considering the fact that I never intended to harm anyone and I am a 20 year old first offender. While the consequences of my accident are indeed tragic, and I understand that many people (especially the families of the victims) are angry and demand vengeance, the fact remains that this was an accident and I never set out to hurt my friends in the car. The details of this case are well-known. The families of the victims demanded 20 years of jail time and Judge Adams went along with their request. I believe the State's Attorney agrees that no one in Montgomery County ever got this type of a sentence for this type of crime before."
Coffay fled scene of the crash that killed 18-year-old Haeley McGuire of Rockville, 18-year-old Spencer Datt of Derwood and 20-year-old John Hoover of Rockville in May 2011.