Today a man named Keo Young will go on trial in front of a jury of his peers in the state of Florida. It has taken me a couple years to get to the point where I can even talk about this guy. That’s because Keo Young is responsible for the death of my little brother, Matthew.
It was a Thursday night, and Matthew and three of his friends piled into a Saturn coupe to drive around town. I have no idea what their ultimate destination was, but I can imagine that the car ride itself was half of the fun this group of kids had planned for the evening. I think it is likely they had a favorite CD in, the windows were down, and they were having a good time.
Further up the street, Keo was having his own version of a good time: he was selling crack cocaine to undercover police officers in the parking lot of a hotel. Selling crack was obviously one of Keo’s favorite things to do, because he had already been arrested for it one or two times for it in the past. Keo’s past experiences with the police must’ve made him wise up a little, because he realized what was happening before the police were able to apprehend him. To prevent being arrested again, he fired up the engine to the Explorer he was driving and fled, leading the police in a high-speed chase down the streets of Clearwater.
The Explorer blew through a traffic light that had just changed red at speeds in excess of 85 miles per hour. A witness who was stopped in a different lane at the red light said the Explorer blew past them so fast, their vehicle rocked hard enough for its passengers to fear it overturning.
That was when the Explorer hit the Saturn coupe, which wasn’t sitting still, but had just begun to accelerate since their light had just turned green. I imagine it was a lot like an elephant squashing a mouse.
My brother and the other passenger in the back seat were killed. The girl in the front passenger seat was horribly injured, and the driver is suffering from severe psychological distress.
Is the 23 years Keo Young was sentenced to today enough? 23 years for taking two lives, however unintentional, and then fleeing the scene of the accident when he could have stopped and tried to save a life?
I don’t know. It’s obviously not up to me to decide, or I would have been on the bench today to decide Keo’s fate.
I do know that he took something away from me that I can never get back: the lifelong bond that can exist between two brothers. Keo couldn’t sit in prison long enough to make up for that.
My brother (far left) and two of his friends.