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Shaela Warkentin forgives DUI driver who blinded her

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Two years after the DUI crash that blinded her, Fresno teenager Shaela Warkentin finally got the apology she needed.

A judge sentenced Douglas Lindsey to 120 days in jail and five years' probation Thursday, but not before the 70-year-old asked for forgiveness.

Shaela was just 15 when the crash took two of her senses -- sight and smell. She says she's been angry about Lindsey's decision to drive that night, but never at Lindsey himself. And Thursday, she gave him exactly what he asked for.

Shaela Warkentin left no doubt: Her life will never be the same.

"Well, it's hard to put into words, but it's pretty clear that my life has changed dramatically," she said. "I can't see any more. I can't use the eyes my God has given me."

But the 17-year-old refused to hold a grudge against the man to blame for her disability. Douglas Lindsey rear ended her older sister's Mustang two years ago while he was driving under the influence of prescription drugs.

"You made a mistake and I will forgive you," Shaela said. "But I want you to know that this is definitely not something that I will forget."

Lindsey cried often during the hearing that ended with him in handcuffs, headed to jail. But the tears he shed were not for himself.

"Please forgive me," he cried to Shaela as she spoke.

And two years after the crash, he was finally able to deliver an apology, although emotions prevented him from saying the words himself.

"Can I have my daughter read for me?" he asked the judge as he struggled to read his apology letter.

"If I could give her my eyes and I would be left without sight for the rest of my life, I would do it," his daughter said as she read from the letter.

Lindsey plans to speak to senior citizens about the dangers of driving under the influence of prescription drugs as soon as he's released from jail.

Shaela will graduate from Bullard next month. She plans to study psychology at Fresno State, get a doctorate, and work to help children, like her, who suffer from traumatic experiences.

(Copyright ©2014 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
dui, crimetracker, fresno county, fresno, local, corin hoggard
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