The family of a Jacksonville teenager struck and killed on a bicycle last year says justice was served Friday when the driver pleaded guilty and to vehicular manslaughter and received a one-year sentence.
Jerrod Peterkin, 17, was riding his bike to work on Kernan Boulevard, trying to cross McCormick Road about 8:45 a.m. on Aug. 7, 2012, when Victor Karnauch ran a red light, hitting and killing him.
Both sides wiped tears in the courtroom. For Peterkin's family it was a day for justice and closure. For the man responsible for his death, it was a chance to say I'm sorry.
"I want to apologize whole heartedly for your loss," Karnauch told Peterkin's family and friends. "I could never bring back what happened that day. But I want you to know that I apologize whole heartedly."
When Peterkin's mother took her turn, she responded.
"Mr. Victor. I knew it was an accident," Andrea Vaccianna said. "I pray for peace. And for both families to have closure."
Vehicular homicide is a second-degree felony with a maximum sentence of 15 years, but the two sides worked out a plea agreement which requires Karnauch to spend:
- 1 year in the Duval County jail (With credit for 2 days served)
- 2 years of house arrest
- 7 years probation with no eligibility for early termination
- 5 years with suspended drivers license
Karnauch will also have community service, pay restitution, and start the Jarrod Peterkin Foundation, to promote driver awareness.
Reginald Kissonall, grew up with Peterkin, and although he says nothing can bring him back, this sentence does help the healing.
"Knowing that he is going to pay for what happened it's kind of a sense of closure," Kissonall says. "It kind of ends all of this grieving."
Now Karnauch heads to jail, and Peterkin's family and friends start a new chapter without him. Peterkin's mother hopes her son's death, and this sentence, will save other lives.
"All I ask is for Mr. Karnauch to do, is just to understand what he took from us, then forget and pay it forward," Vacianna says. "If he can help one person and I know and his dad knows that Jerrod is fine. He's OK."
Vacianna says she believes red light cameras they are a good thing if they will help people think twice before speeding through a light, and help prevent another tragic accident like the loss of her son.