‘Please, I pray you forgive me’


Tribune Staff Reporter


ROYAL Bahamas Defence Force marine Christin Reckley is a free woman after paying a $20,000 fine as her punishment for hitting and killing two people in her uninsured car in the Marathon area last month.

After her sentencing, Reckley read an apology to the victims’ relatives, saying she hopes they can find it in their hearts to forgive her one day, adding she will forever live with the reality that she killed two people. Meanwhile, during Reckley’s sentencing and the case of a man convicted of a fatal hit-and-run, the sitting judge spoke of the need for “greater” penalties for such crimes, saying the court hands out fines in these cases because that is what the law dictates.

Reckley’s attorney Bjorn Ferguson confirmed to The Tribune that shortly after being convicted and sentenced by Magistrate Carolyn Vogt-Evans, Reckley satisfied the fine of just over $20,000 for killing Stevan Devallon and Maude Augustin on September 16.

Reckley was fined $10,000 each for killing 23-year-old Devallon and 37-year-old Augustin, and an additional $100 for having done so while driving her uninsured 2010 Toyota March.

Meanwhile, Floyd Weech, the crippled man who struck and killed Andre Otto Sands with his truck as he attempted to cross Robinson Road earlier this year, then fled the scene, was also released from custody yesterday after paying an $11,000 fine.

Up to yesterday morning, both Reckley and Weech were detained in police custody, after having been remanded from last week Wednesday to await their respective sentences for their crimes.

When initially arraigned, Reckley, the RBDF’s top female recruit in 2018, pleaded guilty to one count each of killing in the course of dangerous driving and driving while not covered against third party risk insurance.

According to police, Reckley, who was off-duty at the time, was heading north on Marathon Road in the area of Samana Drive shortly before 1am when she lost control of her car and struck Augustin, aged 37, and Devallon, aged 23.

Both Augustin and Devallon died on the scene, despite the efforts of paramedics. An autopsy report determined their deaths were the result of blunt force trauma caused by injuries to their necks, head and torsos.

Prior to receiving her sentence, and in the presence of numerous RBDF officials, family and friends, Reckley read aloud an apology she had written for relatives of the deceased, in which she stated that for the nine years she has held a driver’s license, she never fathomed hitting so much as a garbage can.

“Nothing could have prepared me for what took place that night, which resulted in two lives being taken,” she said. “If I was able to go back and dictate the turn of events, I would not have been driving that night.

“But I can’t, and for that I will forever live with the cold pain of reality that will forever be engraved in my heart. To say I’m sorry is an understatement, when compared to the remorse.”

Reckley said as marine, she was always taught to “act first, and act with a sense of urgency”. She said when the accident happened, her first impulse was to offer resuscitation to the pair.

However, she said when she realised the situation was too dire, all she could do was pray.

“My prayers continue daily for the bereaved family, and I pray that you be forever comforted by God above,” Reckley concluded. “I will forever continue to pray for your strength and healing, and trust that one day you find it in your heart to forgive me for that accident.”

However, Magistrate Vogt-Evans still scolded the young marine, stating that notwithstanding her good record and accolades, two people are dead today because of her “failure to adhere to the laws under the Road Traffic Act”.

“As an officer of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, you ain’t ‘Joe Blow’,” Magistrate Vogt-Evans said. “You ought to have known better. I expect for you to know better. I expect for you to be more of a courteous driver. I expect for you to respect the road, the laws.”

She added: “This ain’t about who you are; this about what you did, and two whole human beings are dead. That’s something that you’re going to have to live with.”

Meanwhile, Weech, 57, was ordered to pay $10,000 for killing Sands or face one year in jail, and another $1,000 for fleeing the scene or face six months incarceration. At last check, Magistrate Vogt-Evans also suspended Weech’s driver’s licence for five years.

She further scolded the crippled man for his actions, in particular fleeing the scene of a crime, stressing that a message has to be “clearly sent” that such actions “will not be tolerated”.

According to police reports, Sands was attempting to cross Robinson Road near Washington Street shortly after 10pm on July 23, when he was hit by a red truck that continued driving in an easterly direction.

Sands was taken to hospital by paramedics and pronounced dead a short time later. An autopsy report determined the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.

The accident was caught on nearby CCTV and posted to social media over the following weekend. The footage showed the man carefully watching the road as a number of vehicles drove by. He began crossing the road and then looked to his left for oncoming traffic.

Halfway across, he suddenly became aware of the truck speeding towards him to his right and before he could jump out of the way, the vehicle slammed into him.

According to the prosecution, the Ford F150 truck was registered in Weech’s name. Additionally, Weech admitted he was the driver, and that he didn’t stop because of the crowd in the area.

Weech’s attorney, Ian Cargill, indicated that his client turned himself in to police on the following Monday.

Magistrate Vogt-Evans, during Reckley’s sentencing, addressed the public’s perception of the penalty for killing in the course of dangerous driving, stating that “people seem to think it’s the court’s fault when people get fined”.

“Well that is what the law says,” she said. “I can only follow the law. I’m a creature of statute.”

Nonetheless, she said following Weech’s sentencing that she feels there needs to be a “greater” penalty for killing in the course of dangerous driving, and subsequently fleeing the scene.

“It’s just too much of that,” she said.

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