LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A man who killed two teenagers in a drunk driving crash was sentenced to about 15 years behind bars on Wednesday afternoon in Fayette Circuit Court.
Zachary Smith pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree manslaughter, as well as several other related charges, as part of a plea deal.
In January 2021, Smith was driving down Athens Boonesboro Road when he crashed into Hailey and Andrew Smith's car. Zachary shares the same last name with the siblings but they are not related.
Hailey and Andrew died at the scene. Hailey was 16 years old and Andrew was 19.
Hailey's daughter, Zoey, was one year old at the time.
The teen siblings were on their way to their mother's house to celebrate Andrew's birthday when the crash happened.
Police say Zachary was driving drunk, crossed over the center line, and hit the teen's car head-on. According to his arrest citation, he had a 0.299 blood alcohol level, nearly four times the legal limit.
Prior to Smith's sentencing, the Commonwealth recommended about 15 years behind bars.
During the hearing, Zachary's defense attorney asked for probation for 13 years and substance abuse counseling. He said Zachary made a terrible decision to get behind the wheel of a car while under the influence, and that he wishes he could undo that decision.
"In my speaking to him, he is remorseful," Zachary's attorney said. "He understands the gravity of what happened and that there's nothing he could say or do to bring the children back."
When Judge Thomas Travis asked Zachary if he wanted to say something, he stood up and spoke briefly.
"The only thing I can add to what my attorney has said is I would like to apologize to the family personally," Zachary Smith said and then turned to the judge. "And that's all I have to say."
Then, friends and family were invited to give victim impact statements.
"That one moment in time of your complete selfish, egregious act that you will likely never remember, we will never forget," Jamie Jurin, the teens' stepgrandfather, said.
"I hang on to every picture we took, all the stories we got to we got to share, all the memories me and Hailey got to make," Hailey's best friend, Kaeleena Fletcher, said.
"By man's law I hope you are judged to the fullest extent possible," the boyfriend of the teens' mother, Cary Burger, said. "By God's law, I'll leave that up to the God Almighty."
"I hope you take whatever time you get and you learn to be a better man," the teens' mother, Brandy Workman, said tearfully.
After the statements, Judge Travis agreed with the Commonwealth's recommendation and sentenced Zachary to about 15 years.
"I didn't realize that one person could change the world and Zachary Smith has showed he had the power to change many," the teens' mother, Brandy Workman, said after the hearing. "Everybody's world is changed and it won't ever be the same."
Since Zachary has already served two years in jail, there are about 13 years left on his sentence. He will be eligible for parole in one year because that would be 20% of his sentence (3 years).