Man, 24, to spend time in prison
By John Joyce
Published in News on November 8, 2012 1:46 PM
Clyde Russell Sneed, 24, of Mount Olive, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Wayne County Superior Court to felony death by motor vehicle and was sentenced to from two to three years in prison.
The sentencing came almost a year after the death of Gary Lynch, 48, who suffered severe injuries in the hit-and-run accident and lingered for 10 months before dying Nov. 16, 2011.
The accident left Lynch a paraplegic, an amputee and attached to a ventilator until the day he died. He suffered two broken arms, two broken legs, a shattered pelvis, a severed tongue and several internal injuries. He fought infection after infection, eventually losing a leg to gangrene.
Sneed was arrested for DWI on Jan. 9, 2011, with a blood alcohol content of 0.13. While in transit to Wayne County Jail, the state Highway Patrol received a report of a hit and run, which they traced back to Sneed.
Sneed, before he was sentenced, addressed the court with a tearful apology. He said he did not remember the accident, but based on the evidence and his lawyer's advice, had decided to plead guilty and accept responsibility.
The victim's mother, Sarah Lynch, wanted Sneed to remember her son's death. When it came her turn to speak she held up a photo for Sneed to see of her son in the hospital.
"Forever in your mind, I want you to have this picture," Mrs. Lynch said.
She said that after the accident that took place on Jan. 9, 2011, her son could not lift a finger, he could not talk, he could not eat and he had to be fed through a tube.
And he was in immense pain, she said. He had an ulcer on his back that eventually ate through to his back bone.
The bitterness and pain she still carried was evident. Her husband, she said, was unable to bear the sadness of seeing his son deteriorate. He eventually suffered a heart attack and died.
"I'm disappointed in the sentence, but it will bring some closure. There is so much, but we learn to live with it," said Mrs. Lynch.
Both Sneed's mother and the mother of his child spoke on his behalf. He requested eligibility for work release so that he could support his family.
He submitted letters from character witnesses that stated he was a man of faith, he had been to rehabilitation and that he was ultimately better off after the accident, having learned responsibility that, in his own words, made him more fit to be a parent.
Donna Haggerty, Lynch's sister, had not intended to address the court, but was infuriated after reading the letters submitted on Sneed's behalf.
"You have no idea what he went through, what we went through, what everyone went through, because of you," she said.
Judge Arnold Jones approved the plea deal worked out by the lawyers for both sides. Jones said he would allow Sneed to be eligible for work release, but only did so to ensure that he would be able to pay the $6,985 in restitution to the Lynch family for funeral costs.
Sneed also will have to pay court costs, attorney fees and $100 fine before he could keep a penny for his own family.
"I hope he never knows the pain he caused," said Mrs. Haggerty. "But at least he's getting some punishment."