Distracted driver eating sandwich kills boy, gets probation, forgiveness

HUDSONVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — The distracted driver who caused a crash that killed a 13-year-old boy will only serve probation following an emotional sentencing.

Travis Fox, 40, was sentenced on Tuesday to 18 months of probation and must serve on a panel to discuss the dangers of distracted driving. He was also sentenced to 40 hours of community service in the form of public speaking on distracted driving dangers.

“There’s no sentence I can make that’s going to heal the hurt that’s taken place,” the judge told Fox before reading his sentence.

Authorities said Fox, who is from Indiana, admitted he was eating a sandwich and using a GPS device on Aug. 3 when he crashed into the back of a minivan on I-196 just west of M-6, killing David Talsma. The 13-year-old boy was sitting in the back seat of the minivan.

In November, Fox pleaded guilty to a moving violation causing death which is a misdemeanor charge.

Fox read a statement at his sentencing expressing regret over David’s death.

“I would like David’s family to know I think of their beautiful son every minute of every day and that their sadness will be my responsibility to carry for the rest of my life,” Fox said. “I would do anything, anything to get that one moment in time; the moment that would allow me to return David to his family.”

But it was the powerful message of forgiveness that left many in tears following an unexpected move by David’s father, Jason Talsma.

“I would like to give Travis this bracelet that says: I am a difference maker. Through it and for David he can be reminded of the grace and love and responsibility that it represents,” Talsma said as he hugged Fox.

David’s mother, Kristin DeGraaf, said many lives were changed that day, including Fox’s — something that is not lost on her.

“Mr. Fox’s life was taken as well. Yes, we are feeling more pain and sorrow than anyone should have to endure, but I can’t imagine the guilt Mr. Fox will carry for the rest of his life as well,” DeGraaf said in court. “I have forgiven him. My prayer is that he somehow will forgive himself too someday.”

“Just putting myself into his shoes, just realizing we are all real hurt over this and he is as well and I could just feel it,” Talsma told 24 Hour News 8 after the hearing.

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