A Tampa man, Ernest Smith, 23, was sentenced this week to 15 years in prison for killing three people in a drunk driving crash in September, 2010. Walter Givens, his wife Dione and Helen Cummings, a passenger in their car died in the collision, at the intersection of 34th Street and Chelsea Avenue.
Accident investigators said Smith was drunk and speeding at almost 90 mph. At the time of the crash, the DUI driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeded the legal limit.
Smith pleaded guilty to three counts of DUI manslaughter. Judge Kimberley Fernandez imposed the sentence recommended in a plea agreement: 15 years in state prison, followed by 15 years of probation and a lifetime suspension of his driver’s license. Smith was also ordered to pay a fine of $3000 and to stay away from bars and alcohol while on probation.
Cecelia Givens-Degree, the daughter of Walter Givens who was a church elder, addressed the DUI driver at the sentencing saying, “I pray that during your prison stay, you will seek God and become saved, also become the man that he put you on this earth to be.” She spoke of the family’s pain and loss but said they have forgiven him.