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Light Penalty for Double Fatality Angers Families

The grip of alcohol addiction can have a lasting impact not only on the one consumed by it, but also on others as well. In Miles Theurer’s case, his drinking cost the lives of an engaged couple – Elizabeth Young and Michael Stanley – in May of last year, leaving four children without a parent.

Though atypical for the Kentucky University graduate student, whose blood-alcohol was little more than twice the legal level, the incident will doubtless stay with him for years to come.

And that’s the hope of Judge John Bosch, who showed mercy while passing down Theurer’s sentence earlier this month. The sentence? A mere 60 days of jail time, well below the standard 3 to 4 years of incarceration. The judge hopes that the decision will “lead Theurer to give up alcohol altogether.”

Young and Stanley were two of only 57 recorded alcohol-related deaths last year, according to a report published this past January by the Kansas Department of Transportation. This is consistent with a two-year downturn in alcohol-related deaths state-wide. Some believe the ignition interlock law passed July, 2011 is responsible for the decrease in fatalities.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “one in three people will be involved in an alcohol-related crash in their lifetime” (2001, http://www.madd.org/statistics/). Unfortunately for this 31-year-old couple, this accident was their last.

The families of the deceased were outraged by the judge’s decision. After such a loss, any mercy must seem unreasonable. The prosecutor is seeking additional jail time for Theurer.

But more prison time for Theurer will not bring back Young and Stanley.

Under the current sentence, Theurer will be able to continue attending classes, so long as it does not conflict with his community service. He will need to coordinate a total of 36 visits to spread the word that alcohol kills.

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