PINELLAS PARK, Fla. (FOX 13) - It's been one year since a Sarasota woman was killed by a DUI driver in Ocala, Florida. That driver, whose smiling mug shot drew worldwide criticism, will be sentenced Thursday.
The victim's family will be seated, front row, in the Marion County courtroom.
Daniel Clarkston loved his twin sister, 60-year-old Sandra Clarkston, with all of his heart. They shared a unique, unbreakable bond.
"She was four minutes older than me," he said, adding she had a "soft heart."
May 10, 2018 is the day he lost his other half.
"I miss her," Clarkston said. "She just loved life and she lived it."
FHP says Clarkston and her daughter, Shiyanne Kroll, were stopped at a red light at the intersection of NW 60th Avenue and U.S. Hwy. 27 in Ocala. Clarkston was in the passenger's seat when a pickup truck, driven by Angenette Welk, slammed into the rear of their vehicle, pushing the car into a horse trailer.
Clarkston died four days later.
"They're sitting there and all of a sudden, boom. Your life is gone," Daniel Clarkston said. "I was right there holding her hand when she took her last breath. I'll always remember that last breath."
Troopers say Welk, whose married name is now Missett, had a blood alcohol content more than twice the legal limit when she dropped her phone, tried to retrieve it, and crashed.
Her first mug shot depicted a woman grinning, ear to ear. It's an expression that sobered as charges were upgraded.
After the smiling mugshot attracted widespread criticism, Missett's attorney, Stacy Youmans, issued a statement, saying, "There's been a lot of speculation as to the character of Ms. Welk based on a photo. She is a good-hearted person, wife, mother, and friend. She is devastated about what happened and her heart breaks for the Clarkston family."
April 15, Missett pleaded no contest to one count of DUI manslaughter and two counts of DUI with property damage. Thursday, she'll be sentenced and could face up to 17 years in prison.
A man who referred to himself as Missett's brother-in-law petitioned the judge, writing that it's evident Missett "struggled with bipolar disorder," was "prone to self-medication," and asked him to consider a "facility that supports rehabilitation."
Daniel Clarkston, meanwhile, kept the crushed vehicle from the crash, as painful as it is to see.
Wednesday, it was parked outside his Pinellas Park home.
"I found this flipper here that she wore that day," he said, looking through the contents of the vehicle. "The drink they stopped off to buy that she never got to finish."
Thursday, he's hauling the car up to the Marion County Courthouse to show exactly how drunk driving stole his sister's life. Once inside the courthouse, he plans to be Sandra's voice.
"Whatever sentence he imposes on her, I'm okay with," Clarkston said. "I'm not going to be vindictive about it because it's not going to bring her back. I'm fighting for my sister, my twin. She deserves it."
While the sentencing will bring some closure, Clarkston's fight is not over. He'd like to donate the car from the crash to a high school to warn kids of the dangers of drinking and driving. His ultimate goal is to meet with Governor Ron DeSantis to talk about stiffening drunk-driving penalties.