KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tears of both joy and heartbreak filled a Kansas City courtroom as the fate of a driver who took a man’s life, was read aloud.
As Ronald O’Kelly walked into the courtroom, he and his family were unsure of his future, but nearby, another man sat, still heartbroken that his father won’t have one.
Tyler Bronson’s father, Buddy, was riding his motorcycle when police say O’Kelly ran a red light and collided with him. As Bronson lay on the ground, police say O’Kelly had been drinking, accelerated and left the scene.
“This is horrible. It’s disgusting. It’s unthinkable. How you can do that,” Bronson said.
It’s been a long road for Bronson. Just two years ago his mom and sister were killed by a drunk driver.
And yet again, he walked through the court room doors, hoping for a long sentence. As the image of his family was in the forefront of his mind, he heard the judge sentence O’Kelly to 120 days in prison.
“One hundred and twenty days for manslaughter — for killing someone and leaving them on the side of the road to die; 120 days,” Bronson said.
O’Kelly’s attorney said in court that O’Kelly was scared and didn’t know what he hit that night so he fled. But the Bronson family says that should’ve been enough evidence for a maximum sentence.
“What is our judicial system saying? Drunk drive, kill somebody? Run! You’re fine!” Bronson said. “That’s what they’re saying that’s the message they’re putting out there.”
“I can understand sort of where they’re coming on that,” O’Kelly’s lawyer, John Picerno, said. “Murder is an intentional taking of someone’s life. The actions Mr. O’Kelly took were not intentional.”
O’Kelly and his family did not want to speak to the media, but in court O’Kelly looked Tyler in the eyes, admitted to making a huge mistake and apologized.
A sentiment Bronson says will never be enough.
“No apology can make this right,” he said.