Teen Driver in the "Nightcrawler" Lorain County Crash Avoids Jail Time

click to enlarge The train tracks at Kansas Avenue. - Sam Allard / Scene
Sam Allard / Scene
The train tracks at Kansas Avenue.
Zachary Goodin, the 18-year-old Lorain County resident whose reckless driving led to the death of 17-year-old Cameron Friend in a much-publicized car crash in 2015, will not go to jail for his actions. 

Due to heartfelt pleas from Cameron Friend's family members at the Thursday sentencing, Lorain County juvenile judge Lisa Swenski only suspended Goodin's driver's license and ordered him to receive counseling.  

According to the Chronicle-Telegram, though, Judge Swenski had intended to impose the maximum 90-day-sentence. 

"I’m having a hard time getting over the fact that he’s doing no time for taking somebody’s life, for speeding, for being reckless,” she said at the sentencing. She also asked whether or not Goodin kept a photo of Cameron Friend with him to remind him of his actions. Goodin replied that he kept one on his night stand.

Goodin was initially charged with felony aggravated vehicular homicide, but pleaded down to misdemeanor vehicular homicide and criminal damaging.

As a point of contrast, Paul Pelton, the man who filmed the accident's aftermath (and on whose subsequent public shaming Scene reported last year), was sentenced to 30 days in jail and ordered to pay a $250 fine for a misdemeanor vehicle trespass charge and an additional persistent disorderly conduct charge. The disorderly conduct charge resulted from Pelton's alleged attempts to bribe Zachary Goodin into saying that Pelton had had permission to enter the vehicle, allegations that Pelton denies.

When Pelton tried to enter a plea deal to avoid jail time, a plea deal that the families of the crash victims and even the local police supported, the judge rejected it

Pelton posted to his Facebook wall on May 19th that he'd heard from a "reputable source" that Goodin would serve no jail time. 

"Two weeks ago, the driver that survived the accident...used parts of my video in his defense," Pelton wrote. "His defense was able to prove that [Cameron Friend] wore his seat belt incorrectly (as per the video) thus, self created his own incapacitating injury. They were able to plead his aggravated manslaughter felony charge down to a simple misdemeanor. It is likely, according to my source, that the driver, will not serve jail time and will serve a one-year probation period."

Goodin's attorney, Kenneth Lieux, wasn't immediately available for comment about whether or not Pelton's video was used as evidence in negotiations.

About The Author

Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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