KALISPELL — Jared Parsons, convicted of driving drunk and crashing into an Evergreen house, which killed teenager Erin Howk while she slept, has been sentenced.
Flathead County Sheriff’s Office investigators say Parsons was drunk when he crashed his Dodge pick-up truck into a house on Spring Creek Drive around 2 a.m. on Friday, April 26, 2019.
The crash killed 15-year old Howk as she was sleeping in her bed.
Family and friends of Erin gave emotional testimony in court. "She was always rooting for the underdog. Friends with people at school that didn't have friends, friends with the outcasts, friends with the jocks, always silly always smiling, always there for hugs,” said Erin’s mother Brittainy Howk.
Brittainy says that night stays with her, "I get to wear her clothes, and her boots. This particular dress still smells like gasoline and or diesel oil from Jared's truck. I've tried washing it, spraying it down with perfume and it still smells like diesel."
Erin's best friend Kylan Billseorough says she misses her. "Erin was always there for me when a lot of people weren't. She was someone that I could really depend on and that I was really close to at the time. Someone that, I always knew that would be that person for me. Someone I knew I could love forever."
judge Robert Allison said, cases like this are always challenging: "These are very difficult cases. Fortunately, I haven't had a lot of them. I've been on the bench going on eight years."
Flathead County Attorney Travis Ahner asked that Parsons' sentence be strict to send a message to the community but also asked for substance abuse and mental health resources.
Before he was charged, Parsons gave a statement to the court. "I would be lying if I said sorry wasn't enough. But from the deepest part of me, sorry is all I have."
Brittainy asked that Parsons get treatment for alcohol addiction and also told the court that she is working to hold bartenders and bars responsible for over-serving customers like Parsons.
Parsons, who was found guilty of vehicular homicide while under the influence, was sentenced to 17 years in the Montana State Prison, with 10 of the years suspended.