NEW PORT RICHEY — Brian Douglas Haag, whose road rage led to a 2007 crash that killed a 38-year-old husband and father, was sentenced Monday to 25 years in prison.
Haag, 29, was convicted in September of vehicular homicide, two counts of reckless driving with serious bodily injury and leaving the scene of a crash with serious bodily injury.
Authorities said that on Sept. 3, 2007, Kenneth Sapp had just picked up his son, Korey, then 13, from the rec center at Veterans Memorial Park in Hudson. When they turned onto Hicks Road about 5 p.m., a pickup behind them started tailgating immediately. Haag was behind the wheel.
After a high-speed chase, Korey testified, Haag caught up to them on Kitten Trail. As Haag tried to pass them again, Korey said his dad veered into the middle of the road to prevent it. The trucks collided and flipped, sending the occupants flying.
Sapp died. Korey suffered a broken thighbone. David Smith, Haag's passenger, fractured his spine and is now paralyzed.
With the victims lying in the road, Haag crawled into a friend's pickup and went to his mother's house.
He has a criminal history dating to 1995, when he was 14. It includes convictions for grand larceny, aggravated battery, burglary and driving under the influence.
Despite that, several family members argued Monday to Circuit Judge Lowell Bray that Haag is a good person who has suffered greatly in the aftermath of the crash.
His mother said he'd give his last dollar to help another person. A friend said he is adored by his four children.
Haag made an emotional appeal, expressing condolences to Sapp's widow and two sons.
"There's no words or prison sentence that can replace the loss of Mr. Sapp's life," he said. "I've spent many days and nights overwhelmed by the fact that a son has lost his father, a wife has lost her husband."
But Bray, who acknowledged that Sapp contributed to the accident by not disengaging from the chase, said Haag had to be held responsible for his actions. He denied a request from Haag's public defender for a probationary sentence, but he also did not follow the state's request for 50 years in prison.
Jamee Sapp, the widow, has struggled to provide for her sons since losing her husband. Disabled and unable to work, she said she needs help with medical bills. But she wanted prison time for Haag more than money.
"He left," Mrs. Sapp said. "He did not know if my husband was dead, he did not know if my son was dead, and he showed absolutely no concern for that."
Molly Moorhead can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6245.