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Driver in fatal crash sentenced

Even though Brooks' charge includes the word "criminal," the man who lost his wife in the accident refuses to categorize the man as a criminal.

"Had I decided to go to court, there is a possibility he could have gotten second-degree manslaughter, in which he would have had to serve five to 15 years," said Rene Comtois, widower of Elizabeth. "But if I had to do that, I would have made him a criminal. He looked like a simple man."

Instead of going to court, Comtois decided to meet with Brooks and his attorneys to reach a plea bargain. No alcohol or drugs were involved in the accident, Comtois said. Had there been, he would have gone to court to fight for a harsher sentence. But, Comtois said, there were no easy answers.

"To me, he got a five-year sentence," said Comtois. "We got a lifetime sentence. There were no winners."

Comtois referred to impact statements his children gave at the time of the plea bargain, explaining that his children had a different take on the sentencing than he did.

His son, Tom Comtois, wrote, "In a matter of seconds you destroyed what my parents worked for their whole lives and created a lifetime of painful memories for our family and friends. You killed my mother and robbed her of her lifelong dreams. You have no idea what it is like to hold your mother's ashes in your hand and know that they were once your mother's flesh as you feel the tiny gritty fragments in the ashes that were once your mother's bones. You have no idea what it is like to cry so hard that you can't breathe."

The Comtois' daughter, Renee Martin, also had a message for Brooks: "I want to be really angry, mad and hateful toward you, although I know in my heart that it is not the right thing to do. I know that you did not wake up on Memorial Day and plan to take someone's life, however I'm sure my mother didn't wake up that day and plan for her life to be over."

Orth said she hopes that others will be able to learn a valuable lesson from this case.

"There was nothing intentional. He didn't wake up that day and say, 'You know, I'm going to kill someone.' It's something that occurred," she said. "We're all in a rush all the time, and everybody knows someone who's run a red light. The message here is the lights aren't here as a guideline " they're here because if you run them, you kill people."

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