Mar 8, 2012 11:33 PM by Maddie Garrett
The survivor of a deadly car crash said she finally has justice and closure two years later. The day after a former Ville Platte football coach pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide, the other surviving victim, Beth Zilbert speaks out, saying it was long overdue.
In 2010, police said coach Roy Serie caused a head-on collision that killed his wife and Shanno Cox of Lake Charles. Tests showed high levels of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, in Serie's system. Wednesday, the courts sentenced Serie to a ten-year term, but KATC learned the case was postponed four times in order that Serie could start earning retirement from the Evangeline Parish School Board before going to jail.
According to a correspondence between the district attorney and Serie's attorney, the reason for the delay was in order that Serie's daughter would be able to collect the retirement money.
But the several delays did have an impact on the victims and their families. Zilbert said her life has been on-hold for nearly two years as she has gone through physical and emotional healing.
"Our vehicle went air born and then flipped at least once and when it stopped it landed driver's side down. She (Cox) was killed instantly from the impact and I at that point was strapped in just by my seat belt hanging over her body," recalled Zilbert.
In that crash, Zilbert's left arm was crushed and her ribs broken. But she said worse than the physical damage was the emotional hurt, after watching one of her best friends die.
"Every time it was set on the docket to come either for trial or plea agreement I have to get ready to either testify at a criminal trial or make some sort of victim impact statement at a plea agreement so I have to relive all the gory details of what happened," said Zilbert.
She said closure was almost impossible until it was all settled in court. That day came Wednesday, a day she said was long overdue.
"I do think that it would have been so much for helpful for all of the victims, including Mr. Serie's daughter, who is really the greatest victim in all this, if we could have all come to this day sooner so we could have put all of this behind us," she said.
Zilbert said she was also diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after the accident. That's where Luke comes in.
"And every time I would wake up and I'd be uncomfortable, or scared or would have those nightmares Luke would come to my side, put his head on my shoulders and breathe deep and just reminded me that everything was going to be all right," said Zilbert,
Luke is her therapy service dog. And because of him, Beth has started up a therapy dog program called "A New Leash on Life" that now includes over 60 dogs.
"It's sort of crazy to think that this horrifying accident has helped create this absolutely wonderful healing project, but it did," she said.