FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – There is a number in Phillip Markey’s phone that he desperately wants to call.
Whether it’s good times or bad, Markey always scrolls down to the name, glancing at it, wondering what that man who he called his best friend would tell him.
What advice would he give? What encouragement would he tell him?
What would his cousin’s voice sound like again?
“I find myself at family gatherings, watching everyone, and I want to lean to him and ask, ‘Did you see that?’” said Markey during a hearing Friday in Allen Superior Court.
“He’s not there.”
An Allen Superior Court Judge sentenced the man who caused a 2020 Memorial Day crash that killed 27-year-old James Markey to five years in prison at the end of that hearing, but the wounds on the Markey family will likely remain for much longer.
“Because of a drunk driver that’s where we spend our holidays – at a cemetery,” said April Markey, James Markey’s sister.
Judge M. Zent sentenced 69-year-old Dean Hazelett to six years in prison and ordered five of those to be spent behind bars. He ordered Hazelett to serve the other year on probation, pay more than $11,000 in restitution and barred him for driving for six years.
Hazelett turned in front of Markey, who was riding a motorcycle, at the intersection of Spring Street and Rumsey Avenue at about 7:15 p.m. that Memorial Day nearly two years ago.
Investigators found that Hazelett had a blood-alcohol-content of .13 percent – well over the .08 limit – and that witnesses said he was at fault for the crash, according to court documents.
Hazelett admitted to drinking at a local strip club before the crash.
Allen County prosecutors initially charged him with causing death when operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated and reckless homicide, but dropped the drunk driving charge as part of a plea agreement.
Markey did not die right away from his injuries.
He was taken to a local hospital where April Markey was allowed to see him for merely 10 minutes just to identify him. Due to COVID-19 concerns at the time, visitation at the hospital was severely limited.
The family remained in the parking lot for hours.
He died a day later.
“I still remember the last day with him,” April Markey wrote in her letter. “Memorial Day 2020. We rode motorcycles, we went shooting and swimming. I was a perfect day. And then I got a phone call.”
Hazelett apologized to the family and offered his condolences before being remanded into custody.
It’s his first criminal offense, which may have saved him from serving all six years.
“That’s very rare,” Zent told Hazelett. “That’s significant to me.”
But, Zent added, someone who drives drunk and ends up in his court usually goes to prison.