OREM Only days after a fatal accident in September, David Shorten decided he wouldn't go down the road of bitterness and hate.
That choice enabled him to stand in Orem's 4th District Court on Monday and tell the judge he has no anger toward the man who ran a red light and crashed into the car of his wife, Janet, killing her.
"We, the husband and children, personally do not hold animosity," David Shorten told the judge. "We hope (Hidalgo) can find a peaceful resolution to this matter."
Miguel Patino Hidalgo, 51, pleaded guilty Monday to a class A misdemeanor charge of negligent homicide for the Sept. 25 accident and was sentenced to 90 days in jail.
Hidalgo was driving a fully loaded dump truck when he ran a red light at 800 N. Main in Orem and crashed into Janet Shorten, 61. The force sent both vehicles careening through the intersection into several other cars. Shorten died at the scene.
"His pain does not help ours go away," David Shorten said after the hearing. "I have a lot of compassion for him. We know he didn't mean to do it. It was an accident. We're a little dismayed that he'll spend so much time in jail. We really don't hate him; we don't have bad feelings. I have empathy, sympathy."
The Shortens did say they were concerned about the lack of insurance from the small trucking company, Golden State Trucking, and hope there can be more accountability there.
Hidalgo, who clutched a Spanish Bible, spoke through an interpreter to express his sorrow.
"I would ask the family and the court (for) their forgiveness," he said in Spanish. "I am so regretful for what happened. I would never have chosen for things to go the way they did."
Along with Hidalgo's verbal apology, he also gave the family a written letter of apology.
Hidalgo, who is a U.S. citizen, told the judge he has been driving for years and never got a traffic ticket. He said he believed the accident was partially the result of construction on 800 North and difficulty in seeing the traffic light.
However, Hidalgo's main concern, facts aside, was not putting the family through the additional pain of a trial, said defense attorney James Wright.
After imposing 90 days in jail and an $800 fine, Judge John Backlund commented that the sentence is in no way equitable to the value of a life.
"I wish there was just a more satisfactory way to handle this," he said. "Obviously there isn't. I can't forgive you, Mr. Hidalgo; that's not up to me. Mr. Shorten, the tremendous man that he is, has already said that they accept your apology. To me, that's an amazing thing."
Backlund held back tears as he finished the hearing.
The Shortens described their mother, Janet, as completely selfless and service-oriented. Her death has left behind a "big hole in the (LDS) ward," David Shorten said.
"She was very, extremely loyal, duty oriented," David Shorten said. "She took the (LDS) church serious, she played the organ, led music, was the music chairman, (served in) Young Women, Relief Society."
Much of that duty-oriented lifestyle was learned as Janet Shorten served in the Navy as one of the first women assigned to a jet squadron in Newport, Ky. The couple met in 1969 while they were both on active Naval duty.
"She would do anything she could for anyone," said daughter Michal, holding back tears. "She would reach out to anyone and not judge.""What a remarkable family to be able to forgive at this time," Backlund said. "To have those kinds of feelings is truly remarkable."
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