ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A man was sentenced Wednesday to eight years in prison in the deaths of two women he struck and killed as they rode their bicycles in St. Johns County last summer.
Henry Haigler, 38, received prison time followed by seven years’ probation. As part of his sentence, Haigler’s driver’s license will be suspended for 10 years and he must complete 250 hours of community service.
Haigler, who pleaded guilty in January to a felony charge of leaving the scene of a crash involving death, expressed remorse Wednesday to the loved ones of Susanne Landino and Bonnie Parry.
“There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about (it)," Haigler said in court. “Every night, I pray for the families involved. I also pray for your peace. I do not deserve your forgiveness and pray that one day you will have peace. ... For that, I’m truly sorry."
Landino, 61, and Parry, 53, died June 15 after they were hit while riding bikes along Race Track Road. Court records show Haigler stopped and got out after the crash. He told detectives he “freaked out” and drove off.
It wasn’t until two days later that Haigler came clean about what happened.
By then, evidence against him had begun stacking up, including a fog lamp left behind at the scene of the crash and surveillance images placing him in the area of the crash.
Detectives zeroed in on Haigler based on information gleaned from witnesses and license plate readers. Armed with a search warrant, deputies found his vehicle had front-end damage, and there was alcohol inside.
As St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office Det. James Jackson testified in court, investigators reviewed cell phone records that indicated Haigler was using the device at the time of the collision.
Haigler later acknowledged he was distracted before the crash. He said he didn’t see the women, but rather heard a “hard thud” when he hit them.
Family members and friends of the two women, some of them overcome with emotion, pleaded for the judge to impose the maximum sentence of 30 years.
“Not a moment or day goes by where we don’t think of her,” Brenda Damphouse, Parry’s sister, said.
“This has been a devastating loss for our whole family,” added Donna Schaffrath, Landino’s cousin who traveled from Illinois for the hearing. “She was so vibrant. She had her whole life ahead of her. Seriously.”
Loved ones also spoke up for Haigler’s character, saying he is a good man who made a poor decision in a life-or-death situation.
“His intentions were not to cause harm or pain to anyone,” friend Bruce Tucker said. “He’s had lots of sleepless nights.”
In the end, the judge concluded that Haigler likely is not a bad person, but instead someone who made an “awful, awful decision.”
“I don’t think it was long enough for him for what his actions were,”Schaffrath said after the sentence was handed down. “It’s what his actions were that led up to his arrest, is the hardest thing.”