Stephen Robert Foote's attorney says his client has addressed 11 driver education classes at area high schools since June 29, 2009.
We wish every student learning to drive could hear the East Prospect man's story.
Foote killed two people that summer night nearly three years ago.
While coming home after fishing at Lake Williams, he ran a stop sign on Hess Farm Road in York Township. His Ford Explorer collided with a motorcycle, ending the lives of Robert Leber, 44, of Springfield Township and passenger Penny Hess, 44, of North Carolina.
Having read this far, one might think he or she could fill in the details of this tragic event.
But Foote wasn't drinking or on drugs that night, and it didn't appear he was speeding -- at least not to an extent that it factored in the crash, Common Pleas Judge John S. Kennedy noted.
In court Monday, Foote told the victims' families he was unfamiliar with the road and didn't see the stop sign at the Iron Stone Hill Road intersection. As soon as he realized he ran it, he said, his stomach dropped -- at the same moment he hit the Harley-Davidson.
Foote apologized to Leber's and Hess' relatives, and apologized again for not doing so in person before then.
The families simply listened.
For his part, Kennedy acknowledged Foote's remorse as genuine, something he said he doesn't always see in his courtroom.
"This is probably one of the saddest cases I've had," Kennedy said.
With that, he sentenced the 31-year-old Foote to prison for three to 23 months on two misdemeanor counts of involuntary manslaughter, careless driving and running a stop sign.
He'll also be on probation for three years after that, during which time he won't be able to drive, and he must perform 400 hours of community service and pay restitution to the victims' families.
To some, prison might sound like a harsh punishment for what could be considered a horrible accident.
But "accident" is seldom the right word to use when referring to a vehicle crash. Accidents imply an act of God, something no one could have foreseen or avoided.
Crashes usually are the result of peo ple's action or inaction.
In this case, for whatever reason, Foote didn't see a sign warning of a stop sign ahead, didn't see the stop sign itself or even the approaching motorcycle's headlight.
Foote doesn't think the sentence is unfair, his attorney Ed Paskey said.
Two people are dead.
Foote is "going to continue to punish himself for a very long time," Paskey told the judge.
The attorney said his client has been in contact with nine local high schools about speaking in driver education classes since the crash and has so far addressed 11 different classes.
It doesn't bring back Robert Leber and Penny Hess or excuse Foote's negligence.
But it's an atonement that might save others from the same awful experience.
Students probably already know the dangers of speeding or driving while drunk or high.
They also need to hear the devastation that can result from an even momentary lapse in attention behind the wheel.