GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A mother convicted of causing a crash that killed her teenage son in eastern Kent County was sentenced Monday.
A gifted athlete and a kid who could light up a room — that’s how family members of 14-year-old Giovanni Sanchez from Lansing are remembering him.
“My son was a kid of the people,” Misael Sanchez, Giovanni’s father, said. “My son got along with everybody and everything.”
On July 26, 2022, Giovanni’s life was tragically cut short after a crash on I-96 near Whitneyville Road in Cascade Township.
According to police, the crash happened when a Buick Lacrosse — driven by Giovanni’s mother, Sarae Daggett — ran into the back of a semitruck that was stopped for a construction backup.
Drugs and alcohol weren’t involved, but the judge said Daggett was going at least 60 mph and not paying proper attention to the road.
“Not a minute goes by that I don’t regret and think about the loss of my son. I miss him with all of my heart and would do anything to change the situation,” Daggett said. “No one will ever know the pain or sorrow or regret I live with on a daily basis.”
Earlier this year, Daggett pleaded no contest to a moving violation causing the death of her son and a moving violation causing serious impairment of a body function to another teen in the car.
On Monday, some of Giovanni’s family members called for a stiff punishment.
“When Sarae Daggett consciously chose to disobey the laws in which contributed to the death of Giovanni Misael Sanchez, it is not an accident,” said Giovanni’s aunt, Juanita Villarreal. “There are serious consequences to face.”
During the hearing, Judge Jeffrey O’Hara said Daggett’s previous driving record was a cause for concern.
“Many speeding tickets and operating while visibly impaired, driving while license suspended and multiple crashes,” O’Hara said.
Under Michigan law, a moving violation causing death can carry a maximum penalty of up to 1 year in jail. The maximum penalty for a moving violation causing serious impairment of a body function is 93 days.
Ultimately, Daggett was sentenced to 35 days in jail, 2 years of probation and 400 hours of community service. The judge said this followed the sentencing recommendations.
“No matter what the court does here today, it is the court’s belief that nothing will ever come close to the lifetime sentence that Ms. Daggett has imposed on herself,” O’Hara said.
As Giovanni’s father left the courtroom, he told News 8 he believed justice was not served.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s his mom or not — his mom is at fault,” Misael Sanchez said. “She basically killed my son, my son is gone and she’s getting 35 days in jail. There’s no justice for this at all. This is a joke sentence and this is wrong.”