A northern Indiana man will be secured behind bars for eight years following a December 2021 incident, in which he hit an Amish buggy with his Nissan and ran (“ran”, as in, drove off). As a result, people on area roads (both Amish & non-Amish) will travel a bit more safely now.
The obvious reason for the uptick in safety is that this was the man’s third OWI conviction (OWI, Operating While Intoxicated/Impaired, is Indiana’s equivalent for DUI).
Not the First…or even Third Time
Of course, the number of times you’re caught for something doesn’t equate to the number of times you did something. So being caught three times means he likely drove while intoxicated…dozens, even hundreds of times? From Ink Free News (Kosciusko County, IN):
WARSAW — A Peru man will serve eight years in prison after leaving the scene of a serious vehicle accident involving an Amish buggy.
Kevin Alan Swihart, 32, Peru, was charged with failure to stop after an accident resulting in injury, a level 3 felony; operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing serious bodily injury, a level 5 felony; and a habitual vehicular substance offender enhancement.
Swihart was sentenced in Kosciusko Superior Court One on Thursday, March 23.
For failure to stop after an accident resulting in injury, Kosciusko Superior Court One Judge Karin McGrath sentenced Swihart to nine years in the Indiana Department of Correction, with six years executed and three years suspended on probation. She also gave Swihart a three-year DOC sentence for operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing serious bodily injury. Both of these counts will be served concurrently, or at the same time.
An additional two years were added to Swihart’s executed sentence through the habitual vehicular substance offender enhancement.
In total, Swihart received an 11-year sentence, with eight years in prison and three years on probation. Swihart’s driver’s license was also suspended for 11 years.
What struck me
One thing that struck me is that they are being pretty candid about what they’re trying to do here: simply protect the public from this guy. No lofty-sounding language about rehabilitation. In fact quite the opposite. Here’s the blunt statement from one of the prosecutors:
At sentencing, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Joseph Sobek described the case as “a rare situation where the state no longer cares about rehab (for the defendant),” noting Swihart’s two prior OWI convictions.
“He needs to be removed from society for the benefit of others for the longest amount of time possible,” said Sobek.
Sobek requested McGrath give Swihart an eight-year executed sentence, the maximum allowed in Swihart’s plea agreement.
You don’t often hear someone honestly admitting that their side “no longer cares” about the rehabilitation part of the equation. And honestly it seems appropriate here. His defense attorney said on his behalf that “He isn’t a bad guy, he’s dealing with substance abuse issues…He isn’t a lost cause by any means.”
That may be true, but the state at this point is putting public safety before anything else. The story is sad, but he’s also lucky he didn’t kill anyone. The December accident injured two Amish people, including one who had to be airlifted for medical care. Just look at what was left of that buggy:
Sometimes you see buggy accident photos (this one – from a crash in Canada is a good example) and you wonder how in the world someone walks away from that. May have been angels smiling down on these two that day.
And speaking of angels, being behind bars for the better part of the next decade might turn out to be the biggest blessing Mr. Swihart ever received. Hopefully he’ll take steps on his own accord and get help as needed to address his issues.