A Massachusetts teenager on Wednesday became the first person in the state to be convicted of causing a fatal traffic accident while texting, and a judge sentenced him to a year in jail.
Aaron Deveau of Haverhill was sentenced to 2.5 years behind bars with a year to serve and the remainder suspended for the February 2011 crash that took the life of Donald Bowley Jr., 55, of Danville, N.H., and seriously injured Bowley’s girlfriend.
A Haverhill District Court jury convicted Deveau of motor vehicle homicide and negligent operation while texting.
Family members of both Deveau and Bowley, sitting just feet from each other in court, cried and hugged as the verdict was read.
Deveau stood up, addressed the judge and apologized to Bowley’s family.
“I don’t want to say much, but I would like to apologize to the family. If I could take it back, I would take it back.”
Deveau, who had faced a maximum of four years behind bars, also was ordered to perform 40 hours of community service and surrender his driver’s license for 15 years.
Police say Deveau’s car crossed the center line on a Haverhill street and crashed head-on into Bowley’s vehicle. Bowley, a father of three, died 18 days later of injuries authorities say he suffered in the crash. His passenger and girlfriend, Luz Roman, had an extensive stay in the hospital recovering from her injuries.
“He gave his life for mine,” Roman said Wednesday.
Roman begged people to stop texting and driving.
“Some sort of sense of peace,” said Bowley’s daughter, Dawn Bowley, “but he’s still not here.”
The judge says he knows Aaron Deveau didn’t mean for this to happen, but he needed to weigh the deterrence factor.