'I cry every day'

"My whole world is gone.Vicki Rodman, the mother of a teen-ager killed in an 1998 car accident, described her grief and pleaded with Judge Alan Hancock to level the maximum sentence possible at the man responsible.Not only did my smiling, laughter-filled, red-headed son die and lose all of his life, I did too, she said.Daniel Lynn Smith, a 20-year-old Coupeville resident, faced Rodman during at emotional sentencing hearing in Island County Superior Court last Friday. He pleaded guilty the week before to a charge of vehicular homicide by disregard for the safety of others.Hancock handed Smith a year in jail after hearing lengthy testimony in a courtroom packed with both the victim's and Smith's family and friends.Rodman didn't hide her anger at Smith and her outrage at the plea bargain he reached with prosecutors after two years of legal wrangling.He went 80 miles per hour down a road. He should have been going 15 miles per hour. All the kids begged him to stop and slow down, she wrote in a letter addressed to Hancock. He showed no remorse at all. Never even batted an eye.Investigators with the State Patrol say Smith was driving recklessly and speeding on Pit Road, a private gravel road north of Oak Harbor, and caused the accident that killed 15-year-old Brandon Swett July 26, 1998.Swett was crushed by the 1994 Jeep Cherokee after he was thrown out of the vehicle and it rolled on top of him. He was not wearing a seat belt. Smith and two 13-year-old passengers - all belted in - were not seriously injured.Smith told the court that he pleaded guilty to the charge in order to bring some peace and closure for Rodman. He wrote in court papers that he began to understand the pain she felt for the loss of her son after his own child was born.As part of the plea bargain, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Mike Henegen agreed to recommend a special sentence below the standard range. Without this recommendation, Smith could have faced up to a year and eight months in prison.But knowing that Smith escaped the full weight of the law, Rodman says, makes the grief harder to bear.I cry every day, Rodman wrote in her victim's impact statement. There isn't anytime that I don't think of Brandon. You see, my son wasn't just my son, he was my life and my best friend. "

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