TAMPA – A judge sentenced Cameron Herrin to 24 years in state prison on Thursday night, nearly three years after the young man sped along Bayshore Boulevard and crashed into a mother and daughter, killing both.
Hillsborough Circuit Judge Christopher Nash’s decision came at the end of a long day of testimony that saw Herrin’s family members and friends take the testimony to speak about his character before a parade of family members of the two victims expressed their heartache and anger the damage to their lives.
“It is impossible to have greater damage than occurred in this case,”
Herrin, 21, appeared obvious when the judge announced his fate. Then family members started crying when a sheriff’s deputy handcuffed him.
When her son called that day in 2018, Cheryl Herrin could hear him crying, she testified earlier in the day. He told her he had been in an accident.
“Mom,” he said. “I killed someone.”
“No, Cameron,” she said. “You are wrong.”
But she stayed by the phone long enough to drive to the place on Bayshore Boulevard. She saw the Ford Mustang, a gift she and her husband had given their son when he graduated two days earlier from Tampa Catholic High School. She saw him on his hands and knees in the grassy median.
Herrin pleaded guilty to two counts of vehicle homicide in the deaths of Jessica Reisinger-Raubenolt and her 1-year-old daughter, Lillia.
“I feel responsible for this accident,” Cheryl Herrin told the judge. “If I could, I would step in front of Cameron and I would accept the punishment you had to give.”
In the afternoon, the victims’ family arrived.
“They can comfort their children,” said Pamela Reisinger, Jessica’s mother and Lillia’s grandmother from Herrinerne. “They can comfort and hug them. I go to a closet and sniff a T-shirt. I go to a baby picture and stroke her cheeks to comfort her. ”
“Do you know what it’s like to prepare for a deceased person’s beloved birthday?” Brian Raubenolt, Jessica’s brother-in-law and Lillia’s uncle, asked Herrin. “Do you know what it’s like to whisper in the ears of a dying child, ‘I promise I will always take care of your father?’ … You did it to us, Cameron. You killed them. ”
Herrin, who was then 18, went out that morning – May 23, 2018 – with a friend, John Barrineau, to work out at a local gym. The lord’s older brother, Tristan, rode in the Mustang’s passenger seat. Barrineau, then 17, drove separately in a gold Nissan.
The cars stopped at a traffic light at Gandy Boulevard and then drove north on Bayshore. Other drivers and spectators would later tell police that the couple appeared to be driving. The cars were at times parallel to each other as they switched between the two lanes.
Reisinger-Raubenolt, 24, who was visiting Tampa from Ohio, walked back from Ballast Point Park that morning along the iconic boulevard to the home of a relative. In a stroller, she pushed Lillia. At the intersection of Knights Avenue, she moved to cross the roadway. The cars approached.
Nissan swung to avoid the young mother as she stepped out, a witness said. The Mustang moved to avoid Nissan and hit the woman and her child.
In court, Assistant Attorney General Aaron Hubbard presented data from Mustang’s navigation system that recorded several speeding incidents in the days before the crash. It recorded a speed of 162 mph on May 18 along Interstate 75. On May 22, the car reached 84 mph along the Bayshore.
On the 23rd, the car peaked 100 mph moments before the crash. Then it quickly slowed down. A Tampa police officer testified that the car was moving between 30 and 40 km / h at the time of the collision.
David Raubenolt, the widower and father of Lillia, spoke for an hour about the loss he has suffered. He reminded me to drive towards the home where they lived that day, see traffic back up and thought something terrible had happened. He began to pray for a stranger.
He was talking about his wife. She was a woman who loved children and had natural parenting skills. She was a parent who handed out notes to air passengers and apologized if their child started crying. She was a woman who believed in staying strong through diet and had studied nutrition in college.
He talked about how he sweats when he enters his daughter’s room, where a baby’s crib remains untouched. He talked about watching his two young nephews play together and seeing the ghostly image of his daughter and trying to imagine what toy she would play with, what songs she would sing.
He talked about candlelight vigils and the loss of society.
“I want you to never forget that you made thousands of people cry,” Raubenolt said.
The family members of the victims all said they wanted the maximum punishment.
In wearing black, which sometimes paused to cry or sip water, Cheryl Herrin said her family has suffered as well.
Cameron Herrin’s older brother, Tristan, was with him when the crash happened. When both came out of jail, their father had to sleep near them in an extra bedroom because they were so desperate, she said.
“They watched and continue to watch the accident play out again and again and again,” she said. “I hear screams at night from both boys. They have anxiety attacks and panic attacks. ”
Cameron Herrin has lost weight and is losing sleep, his mother said. He has sought help from a therapist.
The tragedy captivated Tampa in a way that local crimes rarely do. It happened on a stretch of road that was considered symbolic of the city itself.
Bayshore – with its million-dollar mansions and high-rise buildings facing a grassy, median with trees and a 4.5-mile sidewalk and balustrade that hugs Hillsborough Bay – is unlike other roads in Tampa. It is both a busy highway between South Tampa and downtown and a popular spot for hikers, runners, cyclists and skaters.