Man begs forgiveness, receives it from victim’s family before being sentenced for crash that claimed life of Port resident
If there was one thing everyone in Judge Sandy Williams’ courtroom Tuesday afternoon agreed on, it was that Jaron Omon is a good man who made a
terrible decision when he drove drunk on June 10.
Omon, whose blood-alcohol level was .22, lost control of his car on Highway C just north of Highway Q in the Town of Grafton that morning. His passenger,
37-year-old Kelly Phillips of Port Washington, a nurse and mother of two, died.
Phillips’ son Tyler and sister Heather Seitz offered Omon forgiveness — something Omon said he can’t offer himself.
“I can pray and hope someday Kelly’s family can forgive me. I can never forgive myself for what happened,” he said haltingly. “I will have to live with the
anguish and remorse for the rest of my life. I am truly, deeply sorry.
“I wish it was me who died in that accident.”
Williams sentenced Omon, 29, of Port Washington, to nine years in prison and six years extended supervision for the single felony count of homicide by
intoxicated use of a motor vehicle.
Once out of prison, he must maintain absolute sobriety, to stay away from taverns and places where alcohol is sold and consumed and undergo any
treatment recommended by corrections officials, Williams said.
Williams noted that she received a packet of letters from people who wanted to be heard on behalf of both Omon and Phillips.
Three of Phillips’ family members spoke at the emotion-filled hearing, as well as three advocates for Omon — his uncle, boss and friend.
“It’s just hard,” Phillips’ son Tyler said. “I’ve had a lot of death in my family. It’s just unbearable all the stuff I’ve been going through. Losing my mother was
probably the hardest death. I lost my best friend, my role model, my backup ... just someone who was always there for a hug.
“I forgive Jaron. I understand he made a wrong decision. I know he’s a good guy. He just shouldn’t have drove.”
Those sentiments echoed comments made by Phillips’ sisters Kim Crego and Heather Seitz, who talked about how dedicated Phillips was to her children.
“Her children are dying inside, missing her so much,” Seitz said. “She was a great mom. I miss how amazing a person she was.
“That was all taken away that morning Jaron decided to drive so incredibly drunk.”
Her sister also made a poor decision in getting in the car, Seitz said, but that wouldn’t have occurred if Omon had decided not to drive.
“He just made a terrible decision,” she said. “I forgive Jaron for what he has done and hope one day he can forgive himself.”
Omon’s employer and friend lauded his character, citing the work he has done in Boy Scouts and his willingness to help others.
“I know by no means would Jaron ever want to cause an accident like this,” his boss Mark Ebbert said. “I can’t imagine what he feels. I know it hurts him
Omon’s uncle Brian Demerath apologized to Phillips’ family, adding that his nephew is a selfless, caring, helpful person who he considered a role model for
The accident, he said, “doesn’t necessarily define Jaron. It doesn’t undo the hundreds of things he’s done. It’s hard to believe Jaron being in a situation like
The day after the accident, Demerath added, Omon wasn’t filled with pity for himself but with remorse.
“The only thing that was his concern was Kelly and her family,” he said.
Omon’s attorney, Doug Stansbury, suggested a three year prison sentence with five years extended supervision, noting that until the accident Omon had an
“But for this, he’s the epitome of a model citizen,” Stansbury said, noting the likelihood he would break the law again is low. “This one event changed
Omon, he said, immediately took full responsibility, taking action to ensure the court proceedings occurred as quickly as possible to make is as easy as
possible on Phillips’ family.
“That was very, very important to him,” Stansbury said. “He never did anything but accept responsibility, and sole responsibility, for this.”
Assistant District Attorney Patti Wabitsch sought a 10 year prison sentence with five years extended supervision, saying that no matter how good a person
Omon is, the message must be sent that drunken driving is serious.
“The victim died in the most horrific way, and it’s all because of the defendant’s actions that night,” she said. “It’s all because of the defendant, his need to
drink and get behind the wheel.”
Omon is not a social drinker but instead has a drinking problem that needs to be dealt with, Wabitsch said. The fact he doesn’t acknowledge it is an issue,
“His alcohol use is problematic,” Wabitsch said.
Williams said she was amazed at the reaction of the Phillips family and the fact they forgave Omon, and by the fact Omon took full responsibility for his
“Both sides recognize the tragedy of this event,” she said, adding that the incident cannot be called an accident.
“This wasn’t an accident,” Williams said. “You had a choice. It was your choice to drive. There was a crash, a collision, caused by you being under the
“Mr. Omon, you asked for their (the family’s) forgiveness. That’s one of the things that hit me over the head — every one of them forgives you. You are one
lucky defendant that this family can forgive you.
“You have to forgive yourself. The only way you can do this is if you come to recognize you have an alcohol problem.”
That’s an essential part of treatment and rehabilitation, she said.
“I don’t have to tell you the seriousness of this offense. You live it every time you close your eyes,” Williams told Omon, noting she often tells her children that
all the good they do can be wiped out by one bad decision and its consequences.
“Don’t let it define you. Become better for it. You will be coming back to society. Come back a better person,” she said.
Williams also addressed Phillips’ children, Tyler and Julia, telling them not to allow their mother’s death to define them or their lives.
“She might not physically be here, but she’s with you,” Williams said. “Honor her by making sure you make the right choices. Tyler and Julia, never use this
as an excuse for your own behavior.