COWETA COUNTY, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - A judge said he won’t let a Georgia college students study abroad in China. That would-be freshman was convicted last year of vehicular homicide in the death of a Coweta County bride-to-be.
Family and friends of Kay Stephens arrived in Coweta County Court prepared for a fight. Less than a year ago, they said they were stunned when Judge Allen Keeble gave a lenient sentence of no prison time to the teen convicted of killing Kay in a violent head-on crash in 2017.
Now, that same judge was being asked to let the driver Jackson Ridgeway out of some of his probation requirements. Ridgeway, who is now a University of North Georgia freshman, wants to travel to China in a study abroad program.
Kay’s parents told FOX 5 News before the hearing, the lenient sentence last year and being back in court less than a year later with a request to travel abroad was just too much.
“He chose to drive that fast. He chose to pass on a double line. This was not an accident,” said Angie Stephens, Kay’s mother.
But the Stephens family did not have to fight this time. They didn’t have to testify either. Judge Keeble told Jackson Ridgeway right away that he was not going to give him permission to travel outside the country. The judge said there was no way for them to supervise his probation from so far away.
Ridgeway drove 75 in a 45, passed in a no passing zone and slammed into the car in which Kay Stephens was a passenger. Her fiancé, Dylan Harris remains in a wheelchair and Kay’s father who was in court is still recovering from his injuries.
“We have to live with this every day. And by the grace of God we are making it,” said Allen Stephens, Kay’s father.
Friends of Kay Stephens were also in court and prepared to testify.
Although last year Judge Keeble declined to send Ridgway to prison for vehicular homicide, he told the young man Wednesday, his was a life sentence to be the best person he could be in order to atone for what he had done.