PERU — A rural Rochester man who plead guilty earlier this year for his role in a crash that killed a 6-month-old will now serve the next four years in the Indiana Department of Correction.
Andrew King, 36, will spend three of those years in prison, with the remaining time spent on supervised probation. His driver’s license will also be suspended for three years.
King was originally arrested in May 2021 on charges of reckless homicide, a Level 5 felony, and a misdemeanor charge of false informing, according to online court records.
However, per terms of his plea, the misdemeanor charge has now been dismissed.
King’s charges stem from an incident that occurred May 10, 2021, in which his 2016 Volvo semi-tractor with an empty trailer attached rear-ended a Toyota Corolla near the intersection of U.S. 31 and 100 North in Miami County, per court documents.
The impact of the collision killed 6-month-old Leo Wallace, who police say was properly and securely strapped in his child safety seat inside the Corolla.
It also injured the infant’s 2-year-old sister Cecilia Wallace and their mother Sarah Wallace, 32, all of South Bend, according to police reports.
Sarah and Cecilia were both flown from the scene to area hospitals in serious and life-threatening condition, respectively.
A woman in a separate vehicle, 75-year-old Rochester resident Christine Wells, was injured when King’s collision with the Wallace family’s vehicle created a chain-reaction crash.
During King’s sentencing hearing Thursday, the dash cam video of that crash was played several times by both the prosecution and the defense.
Each time, King — occasionally crying as he sat at the defense’s table — appeared to look away.
On the video, King can be seen staring out of his driver’s side window for an extended period of time, right up until the moment of impact, Miami County Deputy Prosecutor Courtney Alwine argued.
“For 33 seconds, his attention is no where on the road,” she said, pointing to the dash cam video. “It’s a 35,000-pound truck, and it’s a road he travels often.”
According to his driving record, King has held a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) since 2011, Alwine said, and he was also working in that capacity when the crash occurred.
Alwine then began to piece together what she called “inexcusable” acts, citing how the crash on May 10, 2021 was reportedly King’s third crash as a commercial truck driver in a span of just four months.
Other incidents reported to authorities happened in January 2021 — which reportedly injured a woman — and just two days before the May 10 crash, Alwine said.
Alwine added that King also had several other incidents that stood out on his driving record as a commercial truck driver, including lane violations, speeding and seatbelt violations.
“When you hold a CDL, you hold responsibility,” she noted. “What can you say about a case like this? It’s a tragedy for everyone involved. … This makes no sense. … The impact that this one senseless act caused is broad.”
The prosecution also called on Alex Wallace, Leo’s father, to testify during Thursday’s hearing.
For several minutes, Alex talked about how their family has been impacted since Leo’s death, but he said he also forgives King both “spiritually” and “emotionally.”
However, he added that part of that forgiveness means also still holding King accountable for his actions that day.
“Since May 10, our lives have been deeply intertwined,” Alex said, speaking directly to King. “… Shock waves continue to flow. … That day does not define us, but that day still continues to impact us.”
Alex then added that it’s the family’s strong faith that has helped guide them through the last two years.
“Leo Alexander is a saint now,” he said. “… Our hearts ache as we long for so many things we have lost. … I miss my son. My wife misses that mother and son relationship. Cecilia misses her brother.”
King also took a few moments to address the court Thursday, where he apologized to the Wallace family for “everything,” and stated that he will never be able to drive a commercial truck again.
At this time, King stated that he does not plan to appeal the sentence.
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