Teens sentenced in deadly street racing crash

Teens sentenced in deadly street racing crash »Play Video
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- Two teenagers who were racing on a busy street when one of their cars crashed into a pickup pleaded guilty Tuesday to vehicular homicide.

Ryan James Franks, 18, was sentenced to 26 months in prison, and 17-year-old Vitaly Susch, who was driving the car that struck the pickup, will spend 24 months behind bars.

Both agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence in the death of 62-year-old Fred Boettner, who was a passenger in the truck that was hit on February 1, 2007.

In Whatcom County Superior Court on Wednesday, Kim Boettner said she still has trouble coping with the loss of her father.

"Every morning I wake up and have to remind myself that I can't talk to my hero that day," she said through tears. "I will never hear him tell one of his jokes or laugh like he loved to do.

"The closest I can get is to call his cell phone and listen to the voice mail message, because I can't bring myself to cancel the account."

Invesigators said Franks and Susch were speeding at 80 to 100 miles per hour on Guide Meridian, weaving around traffic and passing cars on the shoulder when Susch slammed into the pickup.

Boettner died at the scene, and Susch's car burst into flames. Susch says he has no recollection of the crash because of his injuries.

Franks called 911, then drove away before eventually turning himself in.

Prosecutors also charged franks with felony hit-and-run, but agreed to drop the charge in exchange for the guilty plea. If he had been convicted of both charges, Franks could have faced up to six years in prison.

In court, Franks spoke to Boettner's friends and family and said he accepted full responsibility for the crash.

"This process has shown me that I really need to change," he said. "No young person anywhere should follow in my footsteps."

His attorney argued that Franks should receive a lesser sentence since he was not the one who hit the truck, but Judge Ira Uhrig said Franks' history of reckless driving warranted the longer sentence.

Prior Coverage:

Driver's parents deny racing to blame for fatal crash

One dead, two injured in street racing crash