Betty-Jo Tagerson has been found guilty on charges of vehicular homicide, culpable negligence manslaughter, and two counts of reckless driving with serious injury. Tagerson sped through a neighborhood and ran over triplets playing outside; one girl died as a result of her injuries, and Tagerson has been sentenced to 13 years in jail.
Delaney, Gabrielle, and Isabella Rossman, all 5-year-olds, were playing in their front yard when Tagerson's jeep jumped the curb and hit all of them. Authorities said that Tagerson had an argument with her husband before getting behind the wheel of her Jeep and speeding through the local neighborhood.
"She had to be going at a good rate of speed to have the vehicle hit in so many places," Dan Hamm, a neighbor, told Tampa Bay News 10.
"She hit right here by the fence and there was a truck parked here, and she hit it and there were four children here," explained Heather Carroll, the triplets' cousin. "She hit them and fell out on the driveway here, and her car careened over there, where three of the kids lived, and hit the van."
The triplets were all rushed to the hospital, but Delaney did not survive. Her sisters and mother took the stand against Tagerson and offered their version of what happened that night.
"I remember I saw her [Delaney] laying down in grass. I remember someone helping her. I remember she wouldn't breathe," Isabella testified. Though Delaney's mother gave her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, the 5-year-old never regained consciousness.
She had been hit so hard by Tagerson's vehicle that she was knocked out of her shoes.
"They were screaming for me," Danielle Malm, the girls' mother, testified. "I didn't know who to help first. Delaney's eyes were fixed. I remember breathing for [Delaney]. Not doing chest compressions, blood coming out of her mouth."
"I remember turning from one kid to another," she added. "I would breathe for Delaney, then I would pick up Gabrielle to let her know I was there. Then, I would breathe for Delaney. It seemed like minutes, but it was just seconds," she said.
Tagerson's lawyer claimed that she suffered from a medical condition that caused her to have blackouts, and that the first blackout occurred while she drove. During sentencing she apologized for the accident.
"The sentence I receive today will not bring sweet Delaney back, nor will it help her family forgive my decision to get in the car that day, but I am truly sorry for what's happened. Feelings of regret and sadness have haunted me. Still, more than a year later, I cannot stop thinking about the little girl who I personally knew," Tagerson said.
She was sentenced to 13 years behind bars, five years of probation, and a lifetime revocation of her driver's license.