Youth pastor's wife speaks after felony charge dropped against driver

Felony charge in fatal crash reduced to misdemeanor

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Todd Annis

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - He was her husband, the love of her life, her best friend.

"It's like you go through the hardest time in your life and you don't have that person there with you," Lauren Annis said. "You go through the hardest time in your life and the one person you want to tell everything to, the one person that you feel like is the only person in the world who can comfort you is not here anymore."

Annis and her husband, Todd, a youth pastor at First Assembly of God in Macclenny, were on their way home from watching the Florida-Tennessee football game with students from church in September 2011. They were on Interstate 10 near Cecil Commerce Center Parkway when a speeding car spun out of control and hit them, killing the pastor.

Investigators say 23-year-old Holly King (pictured, right) was behind the wheel, driving on a suspended license.

"I honestly feel like Holly was this tragedy waiting to happen," Annis said. "How many other Hollys are there on the road where they get by, and they get by, and they get by with all of these different things. And I'm not saying everyone's perfect, I'm not saying that at all, but how many of them are there out there, because I believe it wouldn't have happened to us, it would have happened to someone else."

But King's defense attorney says it's not entirely his client's fault.

"According to the medics at the scene, he was not wearing his seat belt," attorney Curtis Fallgatter said of Todd Annis. "If he was wearing his seat belt, he would've been alive today. So none of that makes any of this right, but pointing fingers at her and blaming this young lady when it was no more than an accident, she'd have gotten a civil citation at worst if she had had a valid driver's license."

Lauren Annis feels like the state failed to protect her and her husband after the court dropped a felony charge against King on Thursday, especially given King's driving record. A misdemeanor charge of driving on a suspended license was added to King instead.

Since the crash, King's been pulled over three times for speeding, driving with a suspended license, and careless driving with no proof of insurance.

But even before the crash, in May 2011, she was cited for careless driving and no license. And two days before the crash that killed Todd Annis, King was again ticketed for no driver license.

"She should not even have been on the road on (that) Saturday, and I feel like this whole entire thing could have been avoided, things could have differently if the state had been there to protect me, if the county had been there to protect me," Lauren Annis said.

She said Todd loved people and would give himself until he was exhausted.

"He was always moving forward and wanting to better himself and wanting to give to other people, and you just don't meet very many people like that, and he was truly one of a kind," Annis said.

She said she misses her husband and best friend dearly.

"I have family, friends, but it's not the same," Annis said. "It's not the same as the person you expected to spend the rest of your life with, gave your whole heart to, stood up and took vows with. No one can ever take that person's place."

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