An Everett teen was urged Thursday to transform his blame for a friend’s death in a reckless-driving accident into a reason for building a life that would make his buddy proud.
The boy, 17, pleaded guilty to juvenile charges of vehicular homicide and fleeing the scene of an accident that on Sept. 27 ended the life of Shawn Elliott, 18.
“Consider this God’s wake-up call to you,” Karen Elliott, the slain teen’s mother, told the defendant. She asked the boy to learn from his mistake and to spend his time on earth “living for two.”
The 17-year-old was driving 60 mph in a 25-mph zone near Silver Lake in south Everett when he lost control of his car and it crashed into a truck. The impact sheared off one of the car’s doors. Elliott, a passenger, was ejected from the vehicle.
The 17-year-old had been drinking beer and didn’t have a driver’s license. He left his friend bleeding to death in the street as he fled, but surrendered to police the next day.
The teen on Thursday wept and apologized to Elliott’s family and friends. Judge Larry McKeeman sentenced him to between 71/2 months and 18 months in juvenile prison.
The length of the teen’s time behind bars will depend on his behavior, and how much he takes advantage of opportunities to get an education and substance abuse counseling, McKeeman said. The judge said he had earlier ruled to keep the teen’s case in juvenile court because he believed that to toss him into the adult criminal justice system would have thrown away another life.
Elliott’s family has consistently urged the court to extend compassion to the boy. McKeeman urged the teen to show them that their faith was not misplaced.
Elliott’s family and friends tearfully told the judge what it was like to have him gone. They listed the holidays Elliott won’t be around to celebrate, the smiles he can’t share, the career he never got the chance to start, the grandchildren he will never bring to visit.
Karen Elliott wept as she recounted what it was like to walk into a room and see her son, a sheet tucked up beneath his neck to cover the injuries that had ended his life.
“I kept thinking he’d wake up and give me a hug,” she said. “Instead, he got up and took the hand of an angel.”
She said Shawn Elliott is now watching his friend and that he wants him to succeed – for them both.