INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A judge sentenced a man to 6 years for his role in a 2017 crash that killed two Ben Davis students.
Daniel Cannon was found guilty on multiple felony counts of criminal recklessness, leaving the scene resulting in death and leaving the scene resulting in serious bodily injury. He was found not guilty on two counts of reckless homicide after his trial in November.
The crash happened on I-70 near Harding Street in April 2017. Brandon Gross, 18, and Taylor Parsons, 17, were killed; three of their friends were hurt.
"While we wish he would have gotten more time, time won't bring those kids back or heal the wounds the others. At the end of the day regardless of the sentence, none of us are winners," Parsons' cousin, Ashley Hair, said. "We are just thankful it's done and we can finally start to get back to 'normal.' Hopefully Daniel will grow up and learn from the choices he made that night."
Witnesses reported seeing a dark-colored car chasing the victims’ vehicle, with both vehicles traveling at speeds that may have exceeded 100 mph. Cannon reportedly returned to the scene of the crash and asked witnesses if police knew about his involvement.
He said his sister had been involved in an altercation with teens at a park; he told police he chased a silver SUV to get the license plate number and admitted to traveling at high speeds.
The teens who survived the crash told investigators that Cannon’s sister and another woman tried to “coax them” into a fight. When Cannon arrived, they felt threatened and left in a silver SUV.
The SUV crashed, rolling several times, while trying to navigate the exit to Harding Street. The surviving teens said Cannon was driving “erratically” and swerved around other vehicles as he tried to catch up.
"I think that we got as much as we could but it'll never be enough," Olivia Evans, one of the survivors, said.
"I wish he wouldn't gotten longer, I mean, nothing can compare to a loss of a loved one and I loved Taylor very, very much and Brandon was very close to me," Michael Blackmore, another survivor, said.
"He always says he's like a good hearted person but his heartless actions left us with heartless bodies," Kris Church, another teenager in car at the time, said.
Meanwhile, reckless and aggressive driving continues on Indiana roads.
"It's a huge problem," Indiana State Police First Sgt. Brent Gulinson said.
Since the start of 2018, Gulinson said they've seen nearly 1,800 violations for aggressive or reckless driving.
"Many of it is due to people driving, certain traffic violations that tend to lend itself to more aggressive driving," Gulinson said.
So police remind drivers to take a breath, be courteous, think of others and focus on your driving.
An Auto Insurance Center report released last year tracking fatal crashes between 2005-2015 found Indiana had the most fatal crashes caused by road rage. See the full report here.
"It seems like this is becoming an incident that's more frequently making the news," State Sen. Michael Crider said. "I'm pretty concerned as I look at efforts that we've made in the past and the current laws to review this and try to make sure that Indiana has laws that are adequate to address the situation."
State Sen. Crider said they'll take a look at it over the summer.
"I'll have a conversation with a couple prosecutors to see if they feel like the charging opportunities for them are sufficient for them to meet some of these cases," State Sen. Crider said.
In this case, two young lives were cut short and others were forever changed.
"He killed two people and changed all of our lives forever!! The justice system needs some kind of major reform. When a grown man can get away with what he's done and only receive 6 years for it," Parson's aunt, Kim Shetterly, wrote in a statement. "It's truly a no win situation. We are glad for the jail time he is getting!! But at least he still has a life. My niece and her friend doesn't!!"
After learning his sentence Friday, Cannon told the judge he planned to appeal. He's set to serve his sentence in the Indiana Department of Correction.