Kim Smith had dedicated her 20-plus year career to helping the disabled as a therapist. Now, at 57, she is a patient. She will always be a patient, now that she has been rendered paraplegic and is now a resident of an apartment complex for seniors and the disabled after a drunk driver slammed into her two years ago. It’s been a year since she moved into the complex, following a year of being hospitalized after the crash.
Recently, the man responsible for her injuries was sentenced by a Broward County judge to 12 years in prison. The Sun-Sentinel reported that while the 31-year-old defendant apologized to Smith, saying he is, “infinitely regretful,” Smith doubted his sincerity. She did however take comfort in the fact that he will be off the streets, at least for a time. It’s only a small measure of comfort, though, considering the daily pain she lives with. She calls the wheelchair, “exhausting.” She notes the pain that radiates from her back to her rear. She explained how she had fallen out of it several times just in the last month. She lamented that every system in her body is compromised, and will continue to be for the rest of her life, which is now expected to be much shorter.
She told the court about all the life events she missed due to being hospitalized after the car accident. She wasn’t able to say goodbye to her dying brother. She wasn’t there to help her 91-year-old mother transition into a nursing home. Meanwhile, defendant was a college graduate with honors who had started his own online marketing company. He didn’t fit the mold of most defendants, the judge noted. Yet he had a pattern of abusing substances and then getting behind the wheel, prosecutors allege. They sought 19 years. His defense lawyer sought to go below the minimum mandatory five years. In the end, he received 12 – three in county jail and nine in state prison. Continue reading