Monday, December 16, 2019
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Man sentenced who caused band student’s death

A judge in Greene County Superior Court today sentenced the driver of a pickup truck that crashed into a car carrying an Indiana high school student a year ago and killed her, along with her father and grandmother, on their way home from a finals round performance at the Bands of America Grand National Championships in Indianapolis, the Associated Press reports.

Judge Dena Martin sentenced Mason Hartke, 20, of Jasper, Indiana, to five years on each of three counts of operating a motor vehicle that caused a death while he was intoxicated. She suspended 1½ years of each sentence, the AP reported.

Killed in the crash was Sophie Rinehart, 17, a student who performed with the Castle High School band in the finals round just hours before her death in the early morning hours of November 13, 2016. Her father, David Rinehart, 46, and grandmother Ruth Ann Rinehart, 74, were also killed in the crash. Sophie’s sister was injured in the crash, as was Mr Hartke.

Mr Rinehart pulled his car off the roadway in the southbound lane of I-69 after hitting a deer, and Mr Hartke drove off the road and crashed into them shortly thereafter. Police found debris near the scene, but the accident remained under investigation at the time of our report.

Mr Hartke later told state police he believed he may have fallen asleep at the wheel, but it turns out he was intoxicated. Three felony counts resulted in his 15-year sentence, but he was also charged, originally, with three felony counts of reckless homicide, according to a story in the Indianapolis Star that appeared about a week after the accident.

The sentencing comes on the eve of the 2017 Grand National Championships for Bands of America at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Gates open at 8 AM tomorrow. A record 100 bands are expected to perform, including four from Illinois (Lake Park, Marian Catholic, Metamora Township, and O’Fallon Township).

Best of luck to all bands, including the band from Castle High School in Newburgh, Indiana, which is scheduled to take the field at 4:30 PM Thursday.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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