Carmichael family

Keven Carmichael was killed in the Folsom collision last June and his wife, Brenda, received numerous injuries.

Driver gets 8-plus years in prison for fatal Folsom crash

Published: Thursday, Apr. 4, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Thursday, Apr. 4, 2013 - 8:07 am

There was no shortage of tragedy Wednesday in Department 62 of the Sacramento Superior Court.

A half-dozen friends and family of Keven Jon Carmichael came to court in his memory – and for the sentencing of the man convicted of vehicular manslaughter in his death last June in Folsom.

Nobody showed up for defendant Ryan Bruce Young, in large part because most of his closest loved ones died in his teenage years – from two suicides, a car wreck and natural causes.

"It's just a horrible tragedy for everyone," said Young's lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Sue Karlton.

Judge Richard K. Sueyoshi sentenced Young to eight years and eight months in state prison on a no contest plea the defendant entered on March 4.

The sentencing was almost an afterthought on a day when numbing pain gathered in Sueyoshi's courtroom from all sides.

When he was killed, Carmichael, 50, a Folsom truck driver, and his wife, Brenda, and their 9-year-old son Trever had just finished attending Sunday services at Oak Hills Church.

After church, they made a quick stop at the Hobby Lobby in nearby Roseville to pick up some balsa wood for a model airplane Keven and Trever were making. Then they had another stop to make – at the gravesite of Brenda's daughter Tarrah Mead, who had died in a car crash seven months earlier, at age 21.

They were on their way to the cemetery on June 3 just before noon when authorities said Ryan Young's Honda van crossed the double yellow line and smashed into them on Blue Ravine Road north of Riley Street.

Knocked unconscious, Carmichael was rushed by paramedics to a hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

The collision crushed his wife's left-side rib cage. She also sustained a broken clavicle, a fractured vertebrae, a torn spleen and a concussion, according to court records.

Physically speaking, Trever Carmichael suffered only bruising from the holding force of his seat belt. Psychologically, "He's got to deal with not having a father now for the rest of his life," Keven Carmichael's sister Kelli Flores said outside court.

A Hiram Johnson High School graduate, Keven Carmichael, at the time of his death, had succeeded in ironing out the wrinkles in his life, his sister said. He had gotten past a rocky marriage and a couple of misdemeanor domestic incidents more than a decade old. There had been no repeats of a 1988 drunken driving conviction.

He worked steadily as a truck driver. He met and married and loved Brenda. They had Trever.

"He was a good father and a good husband," Flores said. "He had a nice house and a nice wife and son."

He liked cars and camping. "Keven was real hands-on," Flores said. "He liked to stay busy."

He had grieved with Brenda over the loss of her daughter Tarrah, a young woman he had helped raise.

"It was just a hard time, really," Flores said, about the Carmichaels' effort to move forward last year, in the months after Tarrah's death.

While Carmichaels' life had come together, Ryan Young's continued to slip away.

The day before the collision, Young, according to his probation report, had spent the day in downtown Sacramento ingesting methamphetamine and smoking pot.

Up all night, Young, now 36, on the morning of the wreck took some Effexor, the report said. It's an antidepressant with a side effect of causing drowsiness. He also had some Zyprexa, an anti-psychotic medication that comes with a warning not to drive when you take it because it can impair reaction time. His blood tests also showed positive for Klonopin, a popular sedative.

After the crash, Young got out of his car and jumped a guardrail and tried to hide in some trees, his probation report said. He did return on foot to the crash site, one witness said, possibly because he thought he'd been seen.

Officers checked his hiding spot and found a baggie of methamphetamine. They noted his eyes were "droopy and bloodshot," his speech was slow, his feet unsteady.

"I know I should have pulled over, but I didn't," Young told police, according to the probation report. "I'm just tired, and I was heading home to sleep and I hit that car. I hope everybody is OK."

Authorities released him at first but arrested him three months later when his lab tests revealed all the drugs in his system. Prosecutors charged him with vehicular manslaughter, driving under the influence and possession of methamphetamine.

Young's criminal record includes a 2010 misdemeanor conviction for receiving stolen property when he tried to steal a motor out of a storage locker.

His probation report said he is bipolar, schizophrenic, depressive and suffering post-traumatic stress disorder.

It said he began using drugs when he turned 16.

His lawyer said it was then that death took away the anchors of Young's life.

When he was 16, his mother fatally shot herself in the head.

When he was 17, his sister did the same. "He's the one who found the body," Karlton said.

When he was 18, his father died in a motorcycle crash.

"That explains his need for the psych meds," Karlton said.

Karlton added, "The only person he had left in the world was his grandmother. She cared for him as a high school senior."

She died when he was 19.

Kelli Flores sat in court with Keven Carmichael's mother and other friends and family to watch Young receive his prison sentence.

He apologized to them.

Outside the courtroom, she said they were sorry for the tragedies he endured.

"We just wish he decided to sleep it off before he got into the car to drive home that day," Flores said.

Call The Bee's Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141. Follow him on Twitter @andyfurillo.

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