Teen who caused fatal crash pleads guilty, victim’s family forgives him

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BOLIVIA, NC (WWAY) – A 19-year-old pleaded guilty for a deadly crash in February 2016 that sent a vehicle into a pond in Shallotte.

Devin Harris pleaded guilty for the death of Caleb Smith, 13.

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“As a parent, it is your worst nightmare coming to realization,” Smith said.

Last February, Scott and Lisa Smith woke up one morning to find out their son Caleb, 13, had been killed in car accident in Shallotte.

“There is no sentence that will bring our son’s life back,” Scott said.

The driver was Devin Harris. He was a boy who grew up with Caleb whom Scott and Lisa brought into their home when he had no where to go.

“We hope that this situation in his life ends up being something that will be a turning point for him,” Scott said.

Scott said Harris was living with their family for years until he began breaking the rules and sneaking out. That is when Scott said they had to kick him out. Just one month later, Scott said Harris stole the key to his car and convinced Caleb to come out for a late night joy ride.

“A child that thought more of others than he thought of himself and that’s what got him into this situation that night,” Scott said.

That night, prosecutors said Harris drove 71 miles an hour down a 35 mile an hour road, lost control and sent Scott’s car into a pond where Caleb was later pronounced dead.

As Harris pleaded guilty to all of his charges, dozens of Caleb’s family members waited to finally face him.

“Just as Caleb would have wanted, we have forgiven Mr.Harris,” Scott said.

Scott said they hope Harris finds a way to turn this around.

“And that his life will become something that will in turn honor our son’s life,” Scott said.

While nothing will ever bring Caleb’s life back, his mom, dad and little sister will spend the rest of their lives sharing his legacy.

“He always was a high flying free spirit, so we figure the balloons would fall right in line with that and you can’t shoot fireworks off outside the courthouse,” Scott said.

Harris was sentenced to an active eight months in prison which he has already served. He is also sentenced to five years supervised probation along with several other conditions including writing apologies to Caleb’s parents, sister and grandparents. He also has to speak at three of the Brunswick Street Safe Programs. The list also includes mental assessments, getting his GED and remaining employed.

If Harris breaks any of the conditions, he will have to serve his suspended sentence for his other charges.

The district attorneys said Harris will likely walk out today, because he has already served almost a year in prison since the accident.