A tragic story with no happy ending came to at least a partial conclusion Wednesday in Clay County as a Carbon woman pleaded guilty to two class-D felonies in connection with a double-fatal auto crash last spring.
Kelsey Reid, 20, pleaded guilty to two counts of involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 18 months in the Indiana Department of Corrections, but will spend no additional time in jail because of having her sentence suspended as part of her plea agreement. She was also sentenced to 90 days of in-home detention.
Reid spent one day in jail last May when prosecutors charged her with two counts of criminal recklessness in the case, which resulted in the deaths of Darrell R. Moore, 18, and Alexis J. Holbert-Darkis, 20, both of Brazil.
“I’m really sorry. I really am,” Reid said while seated at a table with her attorney in the Clay County Superior Courtroom during her sentencing hearing. She broke down crying after adding, “I would do anything to change last year. I really would.”
Before making her brief statement, Reid and the rest of a packed courtroom listened as family members representing Moore and Holbert-Darkis spoke of their losses. The families told the court they accepted the plea agreement, under which Reid also loses her driving privileges for five years and will be on probation for 18 months. At the suggestion of the families, Reid must also perform 40 hours of community service, including speaking to Clay County high school students about the dangers of high-speed driving.
Reid was driving about 6 a.m. on April 6, 2013, when her car left a rural Clay County roadway, struck trees, flipped and landed on its roof. Moore and Holbert-Darkis were passengers in the car and both were ejected during the crash, according to police reports. The two were pronounced dead at the scene. Reid was transported to an area hospital for treatment but was able to walk from the crash.
In the courtroom, in which approximately 80 people were seated, family and friends of Moore and Holbert-Darkis wore T-shirts emblazoned with the names and smiling photos of the victims. Moore’s friends and relatives wore camo-colored T-shirts with his nickname “Rebel” on the shirts. Holbert-Darkis’ family and friends wore T-shirts with pink or light blue heart shapes printed on them.
“My son was a beautiful boy. He was my life,” said a sobbing Leandra Moore, Darrell’s mother, speaking to Judge J. Blaine Akers from the courtroom’s witness chair. “I hope [Reid] does something great with her life because now she’s living for three people, not just for her.”
Stacey Darkis, a relative of Alexis, speaking from the witness chair during the hearing, described the loss her family felt upon learning Alexis’ death. She also brought photos of Alexis to the courtroom and placed them in the front of the room, facing the large audience.
“This tragedy didn’t have to happen,” Stacey Darkis told the court. “Our lives have been devastated by the loss of our beloved Alexis.”
Reid, who was 19 at the time of the crash, has been reclusive since the crash last year, said her grandmother, Becky Hayes, who attended the hearing with other members of Reid’s family. “I understand what [the victims’ families] were saying,” she said speaking after the hearing. “I don’t think people realize [Reid] will never get over this.”
Akers, fighting back strong emotions, said he tried his best to keep his emotions in check. After the sentence was announced, he instructed Reid to emphasize to high school students attending her presentations that they are not invincible, as many of them believe. He also reminded Reid that her actions were not just careless but also criminal. Reid was driving at an excessive speed when the crash took place, according to police.
“I feel sorry for everybody involved in this tragedy,” Akers said from the bench. Then, addressing Reid, he added: “Whatever you do the rest of your life, remember these two people.”
Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or email@example.com