A man with previous drunk driving convictions was sentenced in a Prince William County, Virginia, court to 20 years in prison for killing one nun and severely injuring two others while allegedly driving drunk.
The 24-year-old man, a native of Bolivia, was convicted of felony murder and other charges. At the time of the August 2010 crash, he faced a deportation hearing.
The accident occurred as the nuns were traveling from Richmond, Virginia, to Bristow, just west of Manassas. They were headed to an annual retreat when a Subaru barreled toward them on a two-lane road, crashing into their Toyota.
One of the nuns, age 66, was killed. Her two traveling companions, now 77 and 71, had to undergo lengthy medical treatment and recovery.
The surviving nuns were not in court at the sentencing, but the women have said they want the man to be forgiven. It was an accident, they have said, and they prefer to label him as a young man sick with the disease of alcoholism instead of a murderer. They want him to get out of prison one day and turn his life around.
Their friend who perished in the accident, who was a formerly a missionary and a high school teacher, would have wanted forgiveness for him as well, one of the surviving nuns said.
The nuns, in fact, have embraced the convicted man and his family. His mother has joined them for dinner in the monastery. One of the nuns said the man has sent notes at Christmas, apologizing for his actions.
It is possible that with good behavior and more signs of contrition that the man could be released early. It is important that he gets help for his alcohol addiction, and that he is not just left to suffer in prison.
Source: The Washington Post, "Drunk driver gets 20 years for Va. crash that led to nun's death," Jeremy Borden, Feb. 3, 2012