A South Carolina Circuit Court Judge has ordered that a 19-year-old driver spend six years in prison following a deadly Rock Hill street race earlier this year. Justin Rafael Valdez pleaded guilty to two counts of reckless homicide on Thursday, September 30.
The February 20 crash occurred on State Highway 161 in Rock Hill, S.C. and it resulted in the deaths of Donald and Teresa Hewetson. Prosecutors said the crash occurred during an illegal Rock Hill street race but Valdez and his attorneys said while he was speeding and weaving in and out of traffic, he was not racing.
The prosecutors said the teenager was traveling at 95 miles per hour seconds before the crash. He reportedly passed several vehicles before striking the victims head-on. He was allegedly racing against an unidentified person and a passenger in his vehicle was injured.
Sixteenth Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett said Valdez had already received other speeding tickets. He argued that no driver, especially a teen, could keep control of a vehicle while driving at almost 100 mph.
The Hewetsons’ family asked Judge Brian Gibbons to give Valdez the maximum 20 years in prison.
While the judge agreed to the maximum sentence, he suspended 14 years and ordered Valdez to complete three years of probation when he is released from prison.
Valdez apologized to the couple’s family while his lawyers said he was a Christian young man who made a mistake for two or three minutes of his life.
Donald Hewetson was a popular chiropractor in York County and he had practiced in Rock Hill for thirty years. His wife worked in his clinic.
If your loved one was killed in a crash caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Talk to a South Carolina car accident attorney to find out if you have a case.