FORT WAYNE – In a tear-filled sentencing hearing in Allen Superior Court on Friday, a 57-year-old truck driver received a suspended seven-year prison sentence for a crash that killed a 4-year-old girl on U.S. 30 nearly two years ago.
Based on a plea agreement, before the sentence was handed down, letters from the girl’s parents were read, revealing the empty holes in their hearts that will never go away. The driver tearfully told the girl’s parents he wishes he had been the one to die that day.
In the July 27, 2012, crash, Gary Golay, who was hauling car parts out of Fort Wayne, never hit the brakes and slammed at 60 mph into four vehicles that were stopped at a traffic light at Kroemer Road and U.S. 30, injuring five people and killing Abigail Little.
Golay pleaded guilty this month to one count of reckless homicide and eight counts of criminal recklessness, all felonies, a misdemeanor count of false informing and an infraction for violating federal motor carrier safety regulations.
The charge of false informing stems from the falsifying of his logbooks and driving for longer than is permitted by federal regulations. That allowed him to make significantly more money, police said.
The court accepted a plea agreement in which Golay was given a suspended seven-year jail sentence, five years on probation, two years in home detention and a five-year license suspension. He was also ordered not to operate any motor vehicle of any kind in any jurisdiction for five years. He also must pay a $100 fine, pay $118.66 in restitution and do 200 hours of community service.
During the hearing, the prosecution read a lengthy letter prepared by Tony and Ashley Little, Abigail’s parents, and as the letter was read, Golay sat at a table in the courtroom and quietly sobbed.
There is not a day that goes by – not a minute that goes by – that we don’t miss her. Not a day passes that we don’t miss her at dinner, shouting her favorite prayer or requesting plain spaghetti noodles with baby carrots and ketchup to dip them in for lunch, the letter said.
The letter said they ache for Abigail’s little brothers and for the childhood they will not spend with Abbie.
Each day goes by, and with every moment, with every joy in life, there is extreme pain. Our dreams are shattered and our future seems unclear. We’re scared, and, at times, feel hopelessly lost.
The letter said that though nothing can bring Abbie back, We hope that this criminal investigation and prosecution will bring to light the gut-wrenching, irreversible consequences that can result from fatigued driving. We also hope that it serves as a wake-up call to owners and operators of commercial vehicles.
Gina Goshen of Indianapolis, who was injured in the crash, also submitted a letter to the court, saying she still hurts for the Little family and that it took her a long time to get behind the wheel of a car again. These days I’m a nervous wreck when I drive, but she said she feels no ill will despite the traumatic experience.
Christine Jinks, who was also involved in the crash, said it affected her life. It was too traumatic an event for her to describe, she said, adding, I can’t imagine what Mr. Golay is going through.
When asked if he had a statement, Golay, still crying, said he’d like to try.
Choking out words through quiet sobs, Golay said, To everyone who was impacted by this, hardly a day goes by that I don’t think about it and have nightmares.
I wish I was the one that died that day. I can’t ask anyone for forgiveness because I can’t forgive myself, he said.
Members of both families asked to be left alone after the hearing, but a woman who was apparently part of Golay’s family approached the Little family afterward and expressed her sorrow for the events of that day.