A Claremont man pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon following a high-speed crash that killed two high school sophomores.
Jacob Dalton Turner entered the plea in Catawba County Superior Court in the October 2014 deaths of Alec Calvin Sigmon and Justin Michael Turner, both 15. The pair were ejected from a car Turner drove and crashed.
Judge Mark Klass gave Turner a suspended sentence of 29 to 54 months and 36 months of supervised probation. Turner will spend 90 days in jail and Klass ordered him to speak to high school students about the consequences of speeding and reckless driving.
Turner apologized in court to the families of the dead teens. “I am very sorry for the things I have put you through,” he said, according to District Attorney David Learner’s office. “I’ve had a hard time dealing with the consequences.”
The State Highway Patrol said Turner was driving a 2002 Mercedes at more than 90 mph when the vehicle went off the side of the road, struck a ditch culvert and went airborne. It landed 72 feet away and traveled down an embankment, striking several trees and ejecting Sigmon and Turner from the back seat. Two other passengers were also injured.
Assistant District Attorney Lance Sigmon said Turner had been repeatedly warned about his erratic driving behavior. The families of the two dead teens addressed the court about the impact on their lives, and statements from the two injured passengers were read.
“We can send a message to this defendant that his behavior is unacceptable and has far-reaching consequences,” Sigmon said. “We’ve heard about the defendant’s bright future, but Justin and Alec have no future. We want him to be a productive citizen of this community, but we also want him to be a responsible one.”