Carson City girl gets community service in fatal Genoa crash

MINDEN -- The teenage driver in a fatal car crash received a $900 fine and 100 hours community service for her part in the accident.

Angela Steichen, 17, of Carson City, was placed on informal probation Monday by District Judge Michael Gibbons in the June 2, 2001, death of Joshua Spuehler of Dayton.

At the hearing, nine of Joshua's family members and friends wore T-shirts with a picture of the boy smiling beneath blue letters that read "Lost to Us" with the fatal accident's date beneath the photo.

Joshua's mother Johnnie told the court she didn't hate the girl whose inattention killed her son.

"I don't hate you, Angela," she said. "I don't hate you at all. I wish I could have been in that car. I envy you because you were with him the last few minutes."

Spuehler said after her son's death she couldn't work or sleep and was suicidal.

"All I would do was just lie there and hope to die," she said. "When I drive, I see Josh lying there in the middle of the road."

As she was testifying, a row of Spuehler's friends and family began crying audibly.

"My life has fallen apart completely," she said. "I hope Angela realizes that it only takes a split second to take a life.

"I would like my children to have a normal life again but I don't know when that will happen."

After court Monday, John Spuehler, the dead boy's father, who was not wearing one of the Josh T-shirts, said Gibbons made the right decision.

"There's been enough pain and suffering since June 2," he testified. "There's enough hatred and anger that's gone on. It's time to lay that to rest.

"The greatest effect it's had on me is that I'll never be able to talk to my son again or hold him again," Spuehler said.

It is unclear how long Steichen's license will be restricted because the probation was not set for a definite length of time.

Gibbons said Steichen had no offenses before the accident.

Steichen admitted in December to failing to maintain her lane, which caused the crash. The girl's car slammed into an oncoming Dodge Durango the morning of June 2. Spuehler, 16, died at the scene.

The four teens involved in the crash were Chautauquan singers who had just performed during Genoa's sesquicentennial celebration.

Also, numerous teens in Carson City and Dayton were affected by his son's death, Spuehler said.

"A lot of young people will never be the same," he said. An estimated 1,300 people attended a memorial service for Spuehler in June.

Spuehler's father said now is the time for "grace and mercy" toward Steichen.

While placing Steichen on informal probation, Gibbons told the former straight-A student, who he said dropped out of Carson High because other students called her a murderer, that now she has to live for two people.

During a statement, Steichen told Gibbons she is truly sorry for the accident.

Also, Gibbons said Steichen wrote a letter, in which she offered to take her own life if it would make Spuehler's family feel better.

The judge said that during his 21 years of practicing law, no one had said they would give up their life immediately if it would help the victim's family.

"I loved Josh so much," Steichen said while crying. "He was such a close friend. I know what it is to miss him."

Gibbons echoed prosecutor Jennifer Yturbide's earlier remarks that she needs to give back to the community and be a productive citizen.

"The best thing you can do is not give up your life," Gibbons said. "Honor his memory. Live two lives and make a real difference."


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