Man sentenced for crash that killed newlyweds
A Holland man has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison for killing Hannah Kwekel and Logan Allbaugh in a car crash while intoxicated by drugs last July.
Kwekel, 22, and Allbaugh, 24, of Allegan were killed July 17 in a crash at 128th Avenue and M-40 in Heath Township when a vehicle driven by Jacob Scot Damron, 22, ignored a stop sign and caused a three-car crash.
At a sentencing hearing Monday, June 3, family members of the victims filled the courtroom and spoke about he just-married couple.
Allbaugh’s mother, Stephanie Allbaugh-Murray, said her son had told her he’d see her soon the last time they were together.
“It was the last time I saw him,” she said. “I never knew the world could be so dark.”
She said it had been like a nightmare and she’d hadn’t been able to say the words, meaning her husband had to tell everyone about her son’s death.
The pain was always with her, she said, and she couldn’t help imagine the wreckage of the car and the couple’s bodies.
Kwekel’s mother, Sara, said her daughter had married her best friend and their wedding was a holy joy.
She described being told just a few weeks later that not just her daughter but Allbaugh too had been killed.
“There isn’t a word to describe that pain. Not one word,” Kwekel said.
She and Hannah’s father wake up to a nightmare every morning, she said, and had to accept they were gone, as well as all the future.
At the plea hearing, a police report said Damron had admitted to smoking marijuana the morning of the crash, which happened in the afternoon, and a blood test showed he had THC in his system.
Allegan County prosecutor Myrene Koch said, “It was not an accident that happened to Logan and Hannah. It was a decision made only by Jacob Damron.”
Damron spoke at the hearing and said he’d honor the people killed by trying to improve his life.
“I’m truly sorry for the tragedy and tremendous loss,” he said.
His lawyer, Matthew Antkoviak, said Damron was remorseful and blamed himself.
“He’s read the letters sent by the victims’ families,” Antkoviak said.
His client understood what he’d caused, he said.
Before sentencing Damron, Judge Margaret Zuzich Bakker said Damron had chosen to drive while under the influence of marijuana.
“It’s a drug and it’s proven today to be a lethal drug,” Bakker said.
She said no one had any excuse for not knowing the dangers of driving while impaired.
“I’ve seen too many deaths in this courtroom. I’ve seen too many grieving families,” Bakker said.
She sentenced Damron to the upper end of the sentencing guidelines in the case, 86 months in prison.
Damron pleaded no contest in April to two counts of operating while intoxicated by drugs causing death.
In exchange for the no contest pleas, prosecutors dropped two counts of reckless driving causing death, one county of reckless driving causing serious injury, one count of operating while intoxicated causing serious injury and one count of carrying a concealed weapon. A third victim, Duane McDonald, was driving in a third car that was struck by Allbaugh and Kwekel’s after Damron hit them. The “causing serious injury” charges related to McDonald and a handgun was found in Damron’s vehicle, leading to the concealed weapon charge.
Contact Dan Pepper at email@example.com or at (269) 673-5534.