LAKELAND, Fla — A Lakeland man will spend 30 years in prison for killing three people in a 2016 wrong way crash.
- Witnesses: Michael Marrero was street racing at time of crash
- Crash killed Christopher Stewart, Brittany Lewis and Kathrin Pitock
- Mothers plan to continue to raise awareness about dangers of street racing
Witnesses told Lakeland Police Michael Marrero was street racing at the time of the crash. According to witness accounts, he was racing another car when that car cut him off.
The move caused Marrero to lose control of his car, which went airborne and flipped, landing on the other side of U.S. 98 and colliding with the car carrying Christopher Stewart, Brittany Lewis, and Kathrin Pitock.
Christopher and Kathrin were dating. Brittany was Christopher’s longtime friend, and he was taking her home after a night of playing cards.
All three of them were killed in the crash.
Marrero plead guilty to three vehicular homicide charges related to their deaths.
Lewis’ mother, Takasha Ellison, said she’s glad Marrero took the plea deal, but says it still won’t bring her daughter back.
“I feel like he got exactly what he deserved, and I feel like he should’ve gotten a lot more,” said Ellison.
Stewart’s mother, Donna Collogan, said she hopes he reflects on his actions in prison.
“Thirty years is a long time," Collogan said. "I feel like he’s going to have a lot of time to think about what he's done. He’s not going to have a life when he gets out."
Both mothers say the two years since the crash have been tough.
“To have to go to court and see him, see his face, come face-to-face with a killer that took your baby away from you is very very hard,” Ellison said.
State Attorney Brian Haas sent a statement saying, “We feel this is a proper resolution to a very tragic case. It won’t bring the victims back, but it will hopefully provide some level of closure for the family.”
Marrero was facing up to 45 years in prison. His wife, Melinda, who is hearing impaired, said she told her husband to take the plea deal to avoid him possibly having to spend more time in prison.
The two have two children together and got married in June.
“She said she’s not happy and it’s wrong, not fair," said Melinda's mother, Janie Martinez, translating for Melinda. "Thirty years is a long time."
Marrero's plea deal also states that he can never drive legally again.
Both Ellison and Collogan have created signs and have protested near the crash site, encouraging people to stop street racing. They plan to continue to bring awareness to the issue.