Crash Victim's Family Upset About Plea Deal

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A Marion woman is irate to learn the man accused of causing her husband's death is getting a plea deal and lighter punishment.

George Underwood was hit and killed at the intersection of 95 and 203 in Marion County last October.

"There's a series of signs. There's one telling you what's coming up. Another one telling you what's coming up, another one, another one, then you have these two stop signs that are literally bigger than my front door,"  said Underwood's wife, Missy Messenger-Long.

That's what flashed before Joel Crosley October 30th, yet police say he missed the stop sign at the intersection, launched from the railroad tracks and slammed into Underwood's truck.

"George's head was nearly crushed. His occipital bone was crushed and the brain stem was torn and he died they say within two to 10 seconds,"  said Messenger-Long.

Underwood's wife can't utter those words without tears.  The two were together for 17 years.

"He was my rock, fearless, confident," said Messenger-Long. "He did everything for everyone, he really did."

Underwood was out doing a favor for someone that morning when Crosley hit him. No field sobriety tests were done, but Crosley's blood was tested right after and he was found to have marijuana in his system.

"The boy made a series of mistakes and in the end George lost his life," said Messenger-Long.

The Marion County prosecutor says Crosley is expected to plead guilty to misdemeanor vehicular homicide. He'll get his license suspended and face a maximum of 180 days in jail.  For Messenger-Long, that's not nearly enough.

"I want him to get in trouble, be punished for bad mistakes," said Messenger-Long. "I don't want him to spend a long time in prison but I don't think a slap of a wrist is going to make an impact."

Crosley won't face anything for the marijuana in his system. The prosecutor explains he has to prove impairment at the time of the accident. Crosley says he smoked pot the night before the crash. With no field sobriety test, it's impossible to know.

"They take it so lightly here and this is not something to be taken lightly," said Messenger-Long.

The prosecutor also says running a stop sign isn't considered reckless. Proof of recklessness is the only thing that could bump the charge to a higher offense.

"That to me is blatant disregard for a law," said Messenger-Long. "They're acting like he just missed a stop sign."

Crosley has other traffic offenses and had his license suspended for a year prior to the crash. The family thinks all of this should add up to a tougher charge and sentence.
Crosley will be in court Wednesday and is expected to make a plea.