CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Kanawha County man said he knows his daughter won’t be the last person to be killed by a drunk driver in West Virginia.
“There are so many people out here driving without a driver’s license and driving drunk and it’s just over and above, man, it’s not right,” said Brent Sears on Friday’s “580-LIVE with Charleston Mayor Danny Jones” which airs on 580-WCHS, a MetroNews affiliate.
“This subject matter has to be brought to the forefront.”
His talk show appearance came the day after a Monongalia County jury awarded his family about $7.6 million for the 2016 death of of his daughter Carli Sears, age 20.
A Kanawha County native and student at Ole Miss, Sears was killed in Morgantown on Jan. 17, 2016 when a truck hit her while she was walking on a sidewalk during a visit with friends.
Brent Sears filed the civil case against the driver of that truck, Alexander Hambrick, 22, of Putnam County, and the trial came this week in Monongalia County Circuit Court.
“It was a tumultuous three days,” Sears said of the trial.
On Thursday, the jury deliberated for about 90 minutes before returning its decision.
The award amount included compensation for wages Sears would have earned during her life, lost household services, pain and suffering she endured in the six hours between the accident and her death and the sorrow and mental anguish of her survivors.
Also granted were damages for medical and funeral services along with punitive damages.
“We do have a verdict, but whether that amount exists is certainly difficult to obtain,” Sears said of the total judgment.
For Sears, some of the testimony during the trial was difficult to hear.
“I found out things that I didn’t know about Carli and how badly she was hurt when he hit her,” Sears said. “I didn’t know her pelvis was fractured. I didn’t she had broken ribs. I didn’t know about all of the broken bones in her body.”
The Peyton Law Firm has represented the Sears Family.
“Tom and Harvey (Peyton) both agree with us that it would be much better for us not to have had to go through any of this,” Sears said. “We’d much rather have Carli back than anything else.”
Tom Peyton said there were no winners in the case.
“This is a case that I will never forget. As an attorney, I just hope I did an honorable job representing the Sears family in this tragic situation,” Peyton said.
“The civil justice system has served its purpose and perhaps the Sears will now have some modicum of closure.”
In his separate criminal case, Hambrick, a former West Virginia University student, entered guilty pleas in Dec. 2016 to charges of DUI with death and fleeing the scene of an accident causing death.
He was sentenced in Feb. 2017 and served 11 months in the Anthony Correctional Center, six months on home confinement and will remain on probation until he’s 28.
Testifying this week, Hambrick said he does not remember striking Sears.