Lexington, Ky., drunk driver sentenced to prison

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A man who killed two teenagers in a drunk driving accident was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Wednesday.

Zachary Smith, 32, accepted a guilty plea deal last November to two counts of second-degree manslaughter, operating on a suspended and revoked license, an aggravated charge of operating a vehicle under the influence, not having registration plates and failing to maintain insurance. He was charged with killing 16-year-old Hailey Smith and her brother, 19-year-old Andrew Smith, in a 2021 car crash.

Zachary Smith and the siblings share no relation.

Zachary Smith’s lawyer, Dan Parker, requested that his client’s sentence be probated, saying that he had no prior felony convictions and was remorseful for the accident.

“I would like to apologize to the family personally,” Zachary Smith said.

Multiple members of Hailey and Andrew Smith’s family also spoke prior to the official sentencing, sharing the grief they have dealt with and addressing Zachary Smith directly for his decision to get behind the wheel that ultimately led to Andrew and Hailey Smith’s deaths.

Fayette Circuit Judge Travis Thomas followed the recommended sentence from the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, which was consecutive seven and-a-half year sentences for each manslaughter charge, according to court documents.

Zachary Smith must also pay $13,104 in restitution along with other fines from the traffic-related charges.

On Jan. 9, 2021, Zachary Smith was driving a Ford Explorer inbound on Athens Boonesboro Road around 7 p.m. when he crossed the center line and collided head-on with a Mazda Protégé near Blue Sky Parkway, according to police. Hailey and Andrew Smith died at the scene.

A couple of weeks after the accident, Nicholas Gray, an officer with the Lexington Police Department, testified in court that Zachary Smith had a blood-alcohol content of 0.229 percent. Gray also said that Smith told police he was trying to get to a gas station farther down the road, and that Smith may have believed he was getting into the turn lane to go to that gas station.

Neither Smith’s SUV nor the siblings’ Mazda Protégé made any evasive maneuvers, Gray testified.

After pleading guilty, Zachary Smith said in court that he does not have recollection of the incident and it was a “long time ago.”

“I just remember dropping my phone, and I looked up and saw headlights,” he told the court.

Andrew Smith was a recent graduate of Bryan Station High School and worked at Bluegrass Station, said his mother, Brandy Workman. He dreamed of running a reptile rescue.

Hailey Smith attended Fayette County Public Schools’ Family Care Center and would have turned 17 shortly after the crash. She left behind a 1-year-old daughter named Zoey.

Workman said that her children were on their way to her house to celebrate Andrew Smith’s birthday. Workman previously said she thinks Zachary Smith should have faced more severe charges.

“He didn’t mean to murder my kids, but he meant to get behind that wheel knowing it was against the law in so many ways,” Workman said.

Chris Leach is a breaking news reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader. He joined the newspaper in September 2021 after previously working with the Anderson News and the Cats Pause. Chris graduated from UK in December 2018.
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