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Driver Gets Two Years for Teen's Death

IOWA CITY, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28)--What was supposed to be a routine sentencing turned into an emotional rollercoaster in court today.

It all stems from this deadly crash along highway six near tiffin more than two years ago.

The car was carrying students returning from cross country practice when it crossed a center line and hit a van.

14-year-old Mackenzie Lown died in that crash.

Today, the man who was behind the wheel was prepared to take a plea deal, but that's when everything took an abrupt turn.

"Last I remember, around 60, your honor....60"

There were tears and gasps of disbelief in the courtroom when 20-year-old Zachary Swenka testified that he only drove 5 miles more than the speed limit the night Mackenzie Lown died.

"Today you crushed me by not speaking the truth about the speed and the lies you sit there and tell, said the victims mother, Kelly Smith.

Police and witness testimonies say Swenka was going 100 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone when the accident happened.

The judge had to enter a not guilty plea on Swenka's behalf because he refused to admit to it.

"I don't know what that admission that you proposed was, said the victims father Michael Lown.

But after about an hour long break--the judge came back into the courtroom and accepted Swenka's guilty plea, giving him the maximum sentence of two years in prison.

"You may be sentenced to two years but on good behavior you could be out in less than a year. For me it feels like you're getting a slap on the wrist for what we've lost, Smith said.

"I'm sorry for the pain I've caused everyone. Especially Mackenzie's family, Swenka said.

In the end, Kelly Smith, Mackenzie's mother, had this to say to Swenka.

"I do believe in forgiveness and today I forgive you and I pray that for everyone affected by the loss of my daughter it can bring us a little more healing, she said.

The message throughout the courtroom today was the hope that this case will teach other teens about the danger of reckless driving.
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