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Family Asks For Leniency In Boomgarden Case

January 25, 2013, 6:00 PM by Don Jorgensen

Family Asks For Leniency In Boomgarden Case
Darren Boomgarden


The Sioux Falls man who crashed into the back end of a motorcycle last summer killing one person and seriously injuring another won't be going to prison for very long because that's what the victim's family wanted.

As part of a plea bargain, Darren Boomgarden was facing the possibility of 30 years in prison for killing Tracy Handel and injuring Sean Burns after driving drunk and crashing into the back end of their motorcycle last July.

But on Friday Boomgarden received only five years.  It came at the request of Tracy Handel's family.  

Don Jorgensen: What did you ask for?
Tammy Handel: I asked for complete suspension of the prison sentence, total.

An emotional Tammy Handel, Tracy's sister, spoke at the sentencing. She believes Boomgarden is truly remorseful and that he never intended to hurt anyone. After Tammy stepped down, she hugged Boomgarden for several seconds and whispered something in his ear as the two broke down crying.

"I told him to stay strong and this is going to be okay, that all of us are going to do all we can to work together and make this okay," Tammy said.

Sean Burns, who was seriously injured in the crash, also testified.  It's the first time we've heard from him since the accident. He also hugged Boomgarden and told him he forgives him.

"I think he's a human being and we've all made mistakes as human beings and we are all liable for our mistakes. We can be forgiven on the other side of that. You could see the pain in him too? Oh yeah," Burns said.

"I don't have words to describe how sorry I am. I could say I'm sorry, but that just sounds so hollow," Boomgarden said, at his sentencing. "I will spend the rest of my life trying to honor Tracy and Sean in any way I can."

Once Boomgarden is released from prison, which should be in two years, he has to go speak to schools, churches and other civic organizations about the consequences of drinking and driving.

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