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Boomgarden Changes Plea

December 11, 2012, 4:58 PM by Don Jorgensen

Boomgarden Changes Plea
Darren Boomgarden


It's been an emotional day in a Sioux Falls courtroom as the man arrested this summer for driving drunk and running into the back of a motorcycle, killing one person and injuring another, changed his plea.

As part of a deal with prosecutors, Darren Boomgarden pled guilty to one count of manslaughter and his second DUI.  Boomgarden was facing life in prison, but as part of the deal, the state dropped several other charges and agreed Boomgarden can get no more than 30 years in prison.

In a tearful moment of shared grief, family members of Tracy Handel reached out to the parents of Boomgarden, hugging and crying after Tuesday's plea agreement.  

Tracy Handel's sister agreed to talk to us on camera about her family's loss and the Boomgardens' pain.

"We both told each other how sorry we are that each of our families are in this awful situation," Tammy Handel said.

Tracy was killed when Boomgarden drove drunk and ran into the motorcycle Tracy was riding on.   Tuesday in court, Boomgarden retold the events of that night as best he could remember. His blood alcohol content was well beyond the legal limit.

Boomgarden told the judge as he quietly wept, "I don't remember being on 26th Street.  I remember seeing a red light; then my hood flew up on my Jeep."

According to the police report, when they arrested Boomgarden at his house a short time later, they had asked him if he ran into something with his Jeep? He replied "Something; I hope they're okay,"

As the two families consoled each other, Tammy told the Boomgardens she wants to talk to their son at some point.  She said she wants to ask him a lot of questions about that night that ended so tragically.

"But I also want him to know that whether or not he's able to forgive himself, he's not going to receive any hatred from me," Tammy said.

Hatred that might fester among some, but not the Handels.

"This is a horrible thing that has happened to everyone involved and I desperately need him to make something good out of the rest of his life.  Something good has to come out of this, somehow and I'll do whatever I can to help him do that," Tammy said.

Boomgarden will be sentenced in January.  As for the driver of the motorcycle, Sean Burns, he's still recovering from his injuries, but is out of the hospital.

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