Amy J. Schumacher, the drunken driver who ran down two teenage boys while reaching for her cellphone last year, was sentenced Wednesday to four months of weekends in jail and five years' probation.
Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas said that she was concerned about the impact of a prison term on Schumacher's daughters, who are 7 and 4.
"Removing a mother from their life at this time would create a third child victim," Farkas said. "I've decided to craft a sentence that will make no one happy but will address all the issues before this court."
Schumacher, 37, of Ernest Road, Royalton, sobbed her apologies to the family of Anthony Sammarco, the 15-year-old boy who spent five weeks in a coma after being struck by her auto at about 9 p.m. May 26 on Dysinger Road in the Town of Lockport.
"I'm so sorry for Christian and Anthony," Schumacher said in court. "They will always be with me. I just wish there were something more I can do."
Farkas said she was moved by Schumacher's remorse.
"She displays more remorse than I've ever seen from anyone in 35 years [in the legal profession]," the judge said.
But the family of one of the victims was not moved.
"The judge took only her side," said Billi Jo Sammarco, the mother of Anthony Sammarco.
The family stormed from the courtroom before Farkas could finish reading the terms of probation.
"It's not fair to us," said Patricia Palmer, Anthony's grandmother. "We're the ones that have to struggle with Anthony. [Schumacher] has been out there enjoying her life."
A probation officer interviewed Schumacher after her Jan. 27 guilty plea to misdemeanor DWI and two counts of vehicular assault and recommended no jail, Farkas said.
Schumacher has no prior record.
The judge called her "a woman who has a flawless character and reputation. We have a rainy, dark night, the sound of a cellphone."
Schumacher was returning home from a wine-tasting party, defense attorney Herbert L. Greenman said.
"She was so worried that she was going to be a few minutes late. She got a text message and reached down to get it, and the car swerved to the right," Greenman said.
Sammarco's family has hired attorney Richard Hall of the William Mattar firm, who said he's working on a civil suit against Schumacher.
The mother of the other victim, Christian Shufelt, now 14, who suffered a leg injury, filed suit in November. The Shufelt family did not come to court Wednesday.
Anthony Sammarco already had mental health issues before the accident, his mother said. Because of his brain injury, he can't take his regular doses of medication to deal with his bipolar disorder and attention and hyperactivity disorder.
"He can't concentrate. He has a behavior problem in school, he keeps getting kicked out of school," the mother said.
Palmer told the judge there is a one-year waiting period to resume full medication.
The boy was there but made no comment.
"He feels like [the sentence] should have been more," Hall said. "He feels like a part of his life has been taken away."