RALEIGH — Two mothers whose sons were hit by drunken drivers came to the same Wake County courtroom Tuesday and talked about their shattered lives as they watched the motorists be sentenced.
The women told about the pain and shock of answering the phone in the middle of the night, hearing the gut-wrenching news that their sons were in the hospital and might not make it.
Maggie Kraft, 600 miles away from Raleigh in rural Pennsylvania, rushed to find a last-minute flight after the March 1 accident in order to reach her dying 21-year-old son Matthew Kraft, a Chili's waiter who dreamed of opening his own restaurant.
"This would be my first flight, to say goodbye to my youngest son," Maggie Kraft said in court.
The driver in that accident, Kenya Alston, 32, was given a 13- to 16-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to second-degree murder in front of Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens.
The other mother, Cathy Meyer, described how she was able to help nurse her son back to health, spending nights by his hospital bed as he recovered from breaks in his thigh, arms, elbow, toes and legs from the May 1 accident. He underwent four surgeries in a week.
"On April 30, 2008, Jason was in perfect health," Meyer said. The next day, "our son was broken, bleeding."
Jason Meyer, 27, was driving south on Glenwood Avenue at 1 a.m. May 1 when Jason Davidson, 25, an Army paratrooper on a 30-day break from combat service in Afghanistan, came barreling the wrong way after a night out drinking and struck Meyer's car head-on. Davidson's breath alcohol content was 0.19. Broken beer containers were found in his car, said Adam Moyers, a Wake assistant district attorney.
Meyer didn't have health insurance and has medical bills that may approach $600,000.
Davidson, who pleaded guilty to felony assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, will spend 30 days in jail and three years on probation. Stephens also banned Davidson from driving or drinking during that time and ordered him to pay $15,000 to help cover some of Meyer's bills over the next three years. Davidson also agreed to cooperate with Meyer's attorney, who may file civil lawsuits against the establishments that served Davidson that night.
Both Davidson and Alston apologized Tuesday, both saying they never intended to cause harm.
Matthew Kraft was waiting to turn left on Rock Quarry Road on March 1 when a speeding 2001 Cadillac driven by Alston, 32, slammed into Kraft's driver-side door at an estimated 71 mph just before 3 a.m., said Trish Jacobs, a Wake assistant district attorney. Alston was trying to flee a police officer who initially stopped him for driving erratically. Police determined he had a blood alcohol content of 0.17, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08.
"I made a mistake," Alston said about the wreck that killed Kraft. "I know a mistake is not what you want to hear now. I would never hurt anyone."
Maggie Kraft said the holidays will be hard this year without her son Matthew.
"You take someone's life, you can never take it back," she said. "You can party anytime."
email@example.com or 919-829-4622