Thursday, May 29, 2003

Mom's grief includes driver in son's death

By Sharon Turco
The Cincinnati Enquirer


Debbie Geiger lost her 23-year-old son, Joshua Montgomery, in a drunken driving accident almost four months ago.

Wednesday she told a Hamilton County judge she couldn't recommend a sentence for driver Scott Carpenter. He was her son's best friend, she said.

"I do not want to have the weight of Scott's impending sentence to be on my shoulders." Geiger wrote in a letter to the court. "I love him like a son now and always will, but I just cannot bear any more loss."

Geiger was present in court, but did not speak.

She recommended alcohol treatment and probation for Carpenter, who is 21 and lives in Springfield Township. Prior to the deadly crash, Carpenter had already been convicted on a drunken driving charge.

Her letter was read moments before Common Pleas Judge Melba Marsh sentenced Carpenter to spend 180 days in the Hamilton County Justice Center, seek alcohol counseling and spend three years on community control - all punishment for aggravated vehicular homicide.

Marsh also said if Carpenter violates his probation, he would go to prison for five years, the maximum sentence allowed by law.

There were no lectures, just Marsh quietly stating, "You used very poor judgment. You have to make a commitment to refrain from all alcohol in the future."

Carpenter, with Montgomery in the passenger seat, was driving north on Interstate 75 through a Hamilton County construction zone at about 3:30 a.m. Feb. 8 when Carpenter failed to see a boom lift cross the road and crashed into it.

Carpenter and the boom lift operator suffered minor injuries. Montgomery, of Colerain Township, suffered severe injuries and died soon after.

In her letter to the court, Geiger talked about how hard it was to lose her son. "Getting through the last four months has been a living nightmare," Geiger said.

She explained that she had her son at a young age.

"We basically grew up together," Geiger wrote. "He was my friend and my confidante. How many teenage boys do you know willing to hang out with their mom, to go shopping, or out to eat, or invite their mom to go out with him and his friend?"

Carpenter and Montgomery's birthdays are just three days apart. They always celebrated together.

"Where one went the other followed, and many of their excursions included me," Geiger wrote.

Geiger hopes alcohol treatment will help Carpenter.

"I pray that he chooses the right path to take and can start to rebuild his life," she added.


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