Maximum sentence delivered against driver in Madison Regatta accident - News, Weather & Sports

Maximum sentence delivered against driver in Madison Regatta accident

Michael Bowen Michael Bowen

By Maira Ansari

LOUISVILLE (WAVE) -- Michael Bowen, the man convicted of driving his car through a crowd of people during the 2006 Madison Regatta, was sentenced to four years in prison. WAVE 3's Maira Ansari was there as one of his victims told the Bowen and the judge what her life is like after losing her arm and leg in the accident.

In April, Bowen, then 18, pleaded guilty to six felony charges. He admitted that he smoked marijuana the night before the crash and that he had been "huffing" Freon the day he drove through the crowd gathered to watch the Madison Regatta crowd and into the Ohio River.

Ten spectators were seriously injured, including 29-year-old Jennifer Willette of Michigan. She was flown to University Hospital with life-threatening injuries, and had to have her arm and leg amputated.

On Thursday, she says she's glad the man who changed her life is headed to jail for awhile. "I'm just glad it's finally over with and we can move with our life."

Bowen will actually spend three years locked up and another year on home incarceration, during which time he'll be allowed to hold a job but most undergo substance abuse counseling and submit to drug tests.

Once Bowen is released from jail, his driver's license will also be suspended for five years.

Before issuing his sentence, the judge heard emotional testimony from both families. Willette showed the judge her prosthetic limbs as well as a number of scars, but most of all she wanted a chance to face Bowen. "I wanted him to see me the way I am now."

Bowen and his family also had a chance to speak before sentencing, and they expressed their remorse and regret for the injuries suffered by all the victims.

Despite her injuries, Willette returned to the Madison Regatta this year, saying she loves the race and the Madison community.

She also returned to University Hospital one day before Bowen was sentenced to thank the staff who saved her life.

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Online Reporter: Maira Ansari

Online Producer: Michael Dever

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