Loren LeBeau apologizes for Donovan Maldonado's death
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A deadly crash from the point of view of the drunk driver who killed a 7-year-old boy.
"I was in my lane when it felt like a cannonball came through my window," said Loren LeBeau.
The former Central High School basketball coach is heading to prison, but not before explaining himself and apologizing.
From the night he killed Donovan Maldonado while driving drunk until the day he was handcuffed and on his way to prison, Loren LeBeau never spoke to the boy's family. But he's thought of them a lot and Thursday, he started an apology by letting loose 13 months of emotion -- trying to wrap his arms around the boy's father.
"I'm assuming you're Jesse," he said as he started reading a statement in court. "Can I give you a hug?"
Court staff didn't allow the hug, but Jesse Maldonado acknowledged LeBeau's gesture and thanked him for his apology. But he also reminded the judge of how LeBeau's actions ruined the perfect life he and his family felt they had.
LeBeau thought he was driving fine, but his blood alcohol content was .11 when he drove down Shepherd towards the unusual crosswalk for a bike trail. He killed 7-year-old Donovan, critically injured his little sister Bella, and left Jesse in a wheelchair. But even though she wasn't physically injured, Donovan's mother, Maria, may have suffered the worst damage.
"I can only imagine the horror she went through watching her baby boy take his last breath as she held him, knowing there was nothing she could do to help him," said Jesse Maldonado.
His family will always remember Donovan's smile, his athletic prowess, and his love for everyone around him. But Donovan's true lasting legacy may be the closed crosswalk where he was hit and killed and his family was also hit. An underpass is now taking its place on the Sugar Pine Trail.
Jesse Maldonado says LeBeau's 12-year prison sentence can't repair the damage done, but he's hopeful the survivors can heal a little each day, knowing they have an angel watching over them -- one who would want them all to smile.
"I just want to end by saying how proud Maria and I are to have given life to a perfect little man named Donovan Michael Maldonado," the father said. "He will forever be missed, but never forgotten. We love you buddy."
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