At just 17-years-old, Ben Campbell was a star athlete who had his whole life ahead of him.
“He was just an amazing child. Always smiling and wanting to make you laugh,” said his mother, Lisa Shipman Campbell.
On October 11, 2011, Ben got a ride home from school with his friend, Izzy Veed. His mother, Lisa, heard about an accident and soon after received the devastating news.
“My husband said, ‘Baby, there was a fatality,’ and I just started screaming,” she said.
Also in the car was Ben’s 16-year-old girlfriend, Amber Wilburn, who was seriously injured.
“Amber had a broken back in two places and she had an open left compound fracture of the leg, and her aorta was almost ripped in half,” said her mother, Dana Howard.
In January, Veed pleaded guilty to the most serious charge against him – careless driving causing death, which is a misdemeanor. Veed was sentenced to 30 days in jail, probation, and community service.
“Generally speaking, defendants in these cases don’t get jail at all,” said Douglas County deputy district attorney, Brian Sugioka.
He said the line between careless driving and reckless driving – which is a felony carrying a much harsher penalty – is very fine.
“If I could prove that the defendant did in fact see the vehicle coming the other way, and then said to himself, ‘I’m going to drive across anyway,’ that would be a lot closer to reckless.” Sugioka said.
But without that proof, Veed faced the lesser charge. It doesn’t sit well with the mothers of his two victims.
“He’s minus 30 days of his life. Ben’s gone,” said Campbell.
“30 days in jail is not enough, not enough for us, not enough for anybody who’s been through this,” said Howard.
They don’t blame the prosecution, but they want lawmakers to consider more serious charges for drivers who take a life like Ben Campbell’s.
The legislature did change the law in 2010 making careless driving causing death a 12-point traffic offense, meaning Izzy Veed did lose his license for a year.