CANTON — Zoe Reardon, the 18-year-old driver accused in the deaths of three pedestrians in Woodstock on Sept. 9, 2017, pleaded guilty on Monday, receiving three years probation, more than $4,000 in fines and first offender status.
Solicitor General Todd Hayes and attorneys for Reardon worked out details of the guilty plea even as loved ones of the deceased presented victim impact statements to State Court Judge Alan Jordan.
The case stems from an incident in downtown Woodstock in which a Jeep driven by Reardon struck Kaitlin Hunt, 28, who was holding her 3-month-old infant, Riley Hunt, both of Port St. Lucie, Florida, while crossing the street at Arnold Mill and Hubbard Road. Kathy Deming, a family friend who was walking with them was also struck. All three died from their injuries. They were on their way to attend a concert with other family and friends at the Northside Hospital Amphitheater.
Reardon faced nine misdemeanor charges, including five counts of homicide by vehicle, distracted driving, two counts of failure to exercise due caution toward pedestrian and texting while driving. Her trial was to begin Monday, but both sides in the case were able to work out deal for the Atlanta teen to plead guilty. She pleaded guilty to three counts of homicide by vehicle and the texting while driving charge.
In approving the plea deal and granting Reardon first offender status, Jordan told her that any violation of her parole, even as minor as a speeding ticket could mean she would spend the remainder of the sentence locked in the Cherokee County jail and that he could re-sentence her to harsher penalties.
Prior to Jordan approving the deal, loved ones of the victims spoke to the court about their loss. A common theme in those remarks was that neither Reardon nor her family had expressed any remorse or apologized to the victims’ families.
Before the plea was accepted, Reardon addressed the court. “For your heartbreaking loss, I am truly sorry,” she said.
Earlier in the day, which lasted from from 9 a.m. until almost 4 p.m., including a recess for lunch, Kaitlin Hunt’s father, Gregg Vandiver, addressed Reardon as he described witnessing the incident that killed his daughter and 3-month-old granddaughter.
“I could see that you weren’t slowing down, that you weren’t braking,” Vandiver said several times as he described seeing his loved ones crossing the street and seeing Reardon’s Jeep coming toward them.
He described in gruesome detail how his daughter and granddaughter were struck and how all three victims wound up up to 30 feet apart after being hit.
“Still, I could see that you weren’t slowing down, you weren’t braking,” Vandiver said. “Finally, I saw you stop about 750 feet away. What I didn’t see was you coming back.”
Hunt’s stepfather David Lickman wept as he recalled that he and other family members had asked his stepdaughter to come home to Georgia because a Category 4 hurricane was threatening the Hunt’s Florida home.
He recalled Kaitlin Hunt’s husband, Brandon, telling him when he learned they had been hit saying, “But I sent them there to be safe.”
Loved ones who spoke about Kathy Deming spoke about her love of children and how the children and grandchildren of her friends came to see her as a second mother or grandmother.
Deming’s husband, Mike Deming, said he and his wife had just met Riley Hunt earlier that afternoon.
He and others mentioned media interviews Reardon has given in which she described the situation as an accident.
Looking at Reardon, Deming said, “It’s ridiculous to that they walked out in front of you. That didn’t happen and you know it.”