An Atlanta teen driver who killed three pedestrians in 2017 will not have to serve any time in jail after taking a plea deal.
Zoe Reardon, who was 17 at the time of the accident, hit a 28-year-old woman, her three-month-old baby, and a 61-year-old family friend as they were trying to cross the road.
The victims were not in a designated crosswalk.
“It’s ridiculous to say they walked out in front of you,” said Mike Deming, one victim’s husband. “That didn’t happen, and you know it didn’t happen.”
During the trial, loved ones of the three pedestrian victims remembered their faces, recounted stories about good times, and asked a Cherokee County Judge to give the toughest sentence possible to Reardon.
“I want to take this opportunity to say how truly sorry I am,” she said.
The judge accepted Reardon’s plea and gave her 36 months probation in the misdemeanor fatality case from September 2017.
That’s when Reardon crashed into Kaitlin Hunt, her 3-month-old baby Riley, and their close friend Kathy Deming. The group was walking to a concert in a Woodstock Amphitheater when Reardon hit and killed them.
“I’m sure you can hear the animosity in my voice is absolutely immense, and that is why — zero accountability for your actions,” said John Deming, the victim’s son.
Reardon said she never saw them that evening, and her defense has pointed to forensics, arguing this was never a distracted driving case.
Initially, investigators decided not to charge her, but that changed as a civil suit against the City of Woodstock was filed by Hunt’s husband. In it, he pointed out the lack of pedestrian-friendly crossings.
Victims’ loved ones told the court they were disappointed by Reardon’s move to apologize on a local news station last year, rather than reach out directly.
“The only time there was desire for a conversation was when your best interests were at heart,” Mike Deming said.
Reardon’s attorney said that authorities told them not to reach out to the family.
“People are hurting, and they can say what they want,” said Defense Attorney Manny Arora. “The issue here is police told us not to contact them. The plaintiff’s lawyers in the civil suits that were going on told us not to contact them, and the criminal case was sort of an afterthought.”
The sentencing has received public criticism, with some alleging distracted driving was involved and others comparing her case to those with harsher sentences.
“They can say what they want but when you only watch two-minute snippets of the news to figure out what the facts are, that’s just not right,” said Arora. “The issue is the cell phone had nothing to do with it. There was not distracted driving.”
Reardon could have faced 36 months behind bars. Instead, she will serve the probation and check-in from Texas where she currently attends college.
She’ll also get her license back after a year, pay fines and donate to a foundation centered around combating distracted driving.
Under first-offender status, Reardon’s record will be cleared when she completes the sentence.