MILLEN, Ga. (WJBF) – A family is forgiving the driver who killed 5 Georgia Southern University Nursing students last year.
On Thursday John Wayne Johnson pleaded Guilty to 9 Charges, including 3 counts of Vehicular Homicide in a Bryan County, Georgia courtroom.
He was sentenced to five years in prison and five years probation, in exchange for that Guilty Plea.
The prosecutor says the sentence was determined after months of discussions with the victims’ families and the defense team.
More than a year after the crash, WJBF NewsChannel 6 spoke with the father of Millen-native Caitlyn Baggett, one of the students killed in the crash.
“I miss her everyday,” Ricky Baggett told WJBF NewsChannel 6.
Visiting the gravestone of his daughter is how Ricky Baggett starts his days now.
“Every morning I go and get a cup of coffee and I come back out here and I sit out there,” said Baggett. “Right there at her grave. Sitting there just like we are having a conversation.”
Baggett says many years ago he watched his own mother lay her son, his brother, to rest. A heartbreak he never imagine he would also feel.
“It was one of those things, I hoped would never happened to me, but it did.” He said.
Now retreating to his faith is how he’s learned to cope with this nightmare.
“There’s nothing like when you lose your own child,” Baggett said.
A nightmare that his family had to relive again this week, when the driver of the tractor-trailer pleaded guilty to the crash that killed Caitlyn Baggett.
Still, the Georgia Southern University Nursing student’s father says in his faith he’s found the strength to forgive John Wayne Johnson. The man driving the truck that took his daughter’s life.
“I know he didn’t have any intentions of doing that, but it was just an accident that happened,” he said. “I forgave him of it and my wife forgave him of it.”
Baggett says his days without Caitlyn won’t get any easier, but she is never far from her family’s hearts.
“Like I’ve told everybody. We know where she stood with the lord. We know where we stand. One day we are going to see her again,” Baggett said.
The Baggett family’s church was gifted a cross, by a close family friend, in honor of Caitlyn. The cross permanently sits in front of Oak Hill Baptist Church in Millen, Ga.