TAMPA — Kevin Michael Smith's blood-alcohol level was 0.224, almost three times the legal limit when he crashed into a pickup on Hillsborough Avenue and his passenger was thrown from the car.
Vickie Colonna, 43, who was not wearing a seat belt, died on her daughter's 13th birthday.
Smith, a 36-year-old father of two, pleaded guilty to driving under the influence manslaughter Wednesday and was sentenced to a year and a day in prison and 10 years' probation.
Had the case gone to trial, he would have faced a maximum of 15 years in prison.
His attorney, Jim Feldman, said Smith and Colonna met in a bar the night of April 19, 2008. Colonna's husband, Kevin Hobbs, said he was out of town, and his wife was getting a ride to a friend's house.
Smith was behind the wheel of a Chevrolet Silverado on Hillsborough Avenue near Double Branch Road when he noticed a pickup ahead, either stalled or traveling too slowly, a prosecutor said.
Still in dispute is whether the truck's taillights were on. Smith's attorney said the truck was modified with a steel bumper and grill that would have made the lights hard to see. Smith swerved to avoid it, but hit the bumper. Both cars spun out.
Colonna died at a hospital.
In addition to the prison time and probation, Smith will lose his license permanently, have to complete a DUI course and 50 hours of community service, and pay up to $12,200 in restitution.
Colonna's husband didn't attend the sentencing because he said it would have been too difficult.
"It's still a very fresh wound," Hobbs said. "Every time I even receive a phone call or any paperwork pertaining to the case, I'm not right for a few days."
Hobbs said he agrees with the sentence, and thinks his wife would have, too.
"She wouldn't have wanted to see someone basically have their life ruined and have to spend many years behind bars," Hobbs said. "She was a very forgiving person."
Alexandra Zayas can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3354.