As two families say a goodbye to their loved ones, a Sioux Falls man sits in jail accused of buying the alcohol that may have led to their deaths. 19-year-old Amanda Doty and 17-year-old Raphie Phan died on a rural Minnehaha County road more than a week ago.
Friends and family released purple, blue and pink balloon in honor of Doty. Her aunt, Kelly Doty, said the bright and lively colors capture Amanda's big personality. The multi-colored memorials disappeared with the wind.
"For me that was symbolic for our loss of Amanda. She just slipped away from us too quickly," Doty said.
Authorities arrested 42-year-old Tyrone Gastineau, who is accused of giving the teenagers the alcohol that caused the crash. An anonymous tip led investigators to Gastineau. Agents who questioned him said Gastineau admitted to buying the teens vodka.
Test results showed that Phan was just over the legal limit with a blood alcohol content of 0.096. Doty was a passenger in the car and nearly five times the legal limit at 0.393. Doty said the two teens were not dating, but just friends.
Amanda's family is trying to take it one day at a time, and Doty admits some days are filled with sadness. Others are filled with anger. Doty described her niece as smart, feisty and said her smile filled the room. She never smiled more than when she was with her late Grandmother.
"I know Amanda missed my mother so much, and I feel like she's in my mom's arms now," Doty said.
Gastineau faces charges for buying alcohol for the minors, and remarkably, Minnehaha County prosecutes 45 to 60 similar cases every year. Those are the ones officials know about.
"Is it worth it to be cool? Or to make a few bucks? Or to be somebody's friend and provide them with something that could be potentially dangerous to them?" Aaron McGowan, Minnehaha County State's Attorney, said.
McGowan said a portion of those cases stem from charges related to alcohol stings, when authorities catch clerks selling to minors. All of the charges against Gastineau are misdemeanors, but McGowan thinks there should be tougher penalties for a case like this. Doty hopes her niece gets justice.
"When I found out that this was a 42-year-old man that had done this before and now we have lost the joy of our life, and we're never going to get her back," Doty said. "I would just hope that they really make a point of showing that you can't just steal our children's lives and get away with it in the state of South Dakota."