Driver pleads guilty in crash that killed Southington, Bristol and New Britain teens

Driver pleads guilty in crash that killed Southington, Bristol and New Britain teens

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SOUTHINGTON — The driver responsible for a crash that killed three teens last year pleaded guilty under a deal that reduces his possible jail time, but has angered mothers of the crash victims.

Christopher Vega of Plainville was driving back from a party at Keene State College in New Hampshire last January with three friends in the car. Vega swerved off Interstate 91 in Enfield and hit a tree, killing Kerion Rogers, 19, of Bristol and Moses Negron, 17, of New Britain and Taahir “Ty” Harris, 18, of Southington. The crash happened shortly after 7 a.m.

Vega was originally charged with a felony for each of the victims. Those charges were downgraded to negligent homicide and Vega pleaded guilty on Friday. Deborah Garner, mother of Harris, and Romonda Rogers, mother of Kerion Rogers, were told by prosecutors that Vega will likely get six months in prison.

“What you try not to do is equate that with the value of human life,” Garner said Wednesday. “We are really having a hard time processing this.”

Vega’s attorney, Kevin Joiner, said the charges were reduced after discussions with the prosecutor. He declined to elaborate since the case is still pending.

“We agreed that (negligent homicide) was a more appropriate charge,” Joiner said.

Vega is due to be sentenced on Jan. 10.

“If there are any statements to be made, it’ll be at that time,” Joiner said.

The mothers of all three teens killed in the crash were present in Enfield Superior Court Friday. Garner heard “horrific” details of the crash read aloud in court that she hadn’t known, including that her son was thrown 150 feet from the car after it hit a tree.

“It explained why we couldn’t see him. He was completely destroyed,” Garner said.

According to a State Police affidavit, Vega’s car broke in two upon hitting the tree. One portion of the car came to rest nearly 200 feet from the tree.

Vega told paramedics that he thinks he fell asleep.

The group had stopped at a rest area a few hours earlier and got back on the road around 7 a.m. State Police said Vega had been awake for 24 hours before the crash.

Blood tests showed no drugs or alcohol in Vega at the time of the crash.

Romonda Rogers, who lives in New Jersey, said she feels guilty just waking up in the morning while her firstborn son is dead. Kerion Rogers was scheduled to start college classes the day after the fatal crash.

Romonda Rogers hasn’t heard anything from Vega or his family, but said she hopes he turns his life to God and service to others.

“Even before they gave me the sentence, I had already gave everything to God. I don’t even know what to say about this, the sentence. Him coming up in there and showing no remorse,” Romonda Rogers said. “God is the judge at the end of the day. Whatever they give this boy, he can’t escape God.”

Garner said she’s also heard nothing from Vega or his family. She said that he had a “coldness and hardness.”

“It was like he got a traffic ticket,” she said.

Garner filed a lawsuit against Vega, the owners of the car and State Police last February but withdrew the case a year later.

Garner started the Make It Different Foundation in honor of her son. The group has supported college scholarships as well as the Southington High School multicultural club.

The foundation is having a basketball tournament fundraiser on Sunday at Southington High School.

Garner hopes to provide opportunities to other kids that her son and his friends didn’t have.

“Usually your children carry out your dreams,” she said. “It’s the reverse for us. We’re trying to live out what they’ll never be able to do. It’s horrible.”
Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

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