Mother Who Lost Son in Hit-and-Run Faces 36 Months in Prison


Tomorrow, Raquel Nelson, the Marietta mother who lost her 4-year-old son AJ in a hit and run while trying to cross an intersection, will be sentenced. She faces a maximum sentence of 36 months in prison on charges of homicide by vehicle in the second degree, crossing a roadway elsewhere than at a crosswalk and reckless conduct.

Ken Edelstein of†Green Building Chronicle in Atlanta shows the traffic conditions that Nelson and her three young children faced on Austell Road:

Earlier on Monday, Nelson appeared on the†Today Show and explained more about what happened:

“I was trying to hurry up and get home, so we wouldn’t have to be in the dark,” Nelson said, adding that the crosswalks were too far away.

In reference to the driver, Jerry Guy, who admitted to having consumed a “little” alcohol earlier in the day, Nelson said:

“Even though he had a history of it, I know no one gets up that day and says ‘I’m going to kill a 4-year-old, so I have to forgive that portion of it.”

Guy served only 6 months of a 5-year-sentence; he is to serve the rest of his sentence on probation. But Nelson could end up behind bars for up to 3 years, away from her two daughters who have certainly suffered enough.

Writing on Transportation for America, David Goldberg noted that Nelson was “poised and articulate” during her Today show appearance, talking about how she handles the day-to-day:

Youíre always going to relive the moment. It’s hard to explain if you’ve never been through something like this. But you can’t let it dictate what you do. When I’m at work I have to push it away…. My other two daughters are the only way I could have survived this situation, giving me a reason to push forward.

E.D. Kain on Forbes points out that the prosecutor in the case decided to “come down on Nelson as a criminal, when there was certainly no need to do so.” He cites a Huffington Post op-ed by Radley Balko which explains why there are “strong incentives for prosecutors to over-charge defendant” with criminality especially when children are involved, “even when the evidence suggests the death was an accident.” Kain argues that Nelson’s criminal conviction for jaywalking points to a need for a “broader cultural change”:

To do that, you need more people arguing that police and prosecutors are not always on the side of angels, and that sometimes more laws, more convictions, and more tough-on-crime policies donít make us safer, and too often miss the point of justice to begin with. Shifting attitudes toward law and order is not easy, and every new horror story makes the job more difficult. Every tragedy can push people to pass more laws whether or not those laws actually make us any safer. But in the end, if we are to change the laws we need to change the people who support them, which is no simple task.

It’s an understatement to say that Nelson has been through enough. There is little to gain by sentencing her to three years in prison but much to learn from what she suffered when she was just trying to get her children home before dark.

Take Action: Sign the Care2 petition against Nelsonís conviction!

Related Care2 Coverage

Mother Who Lost Son in Hit-and-Run Faces Longer Jail Term Than Driver

Drinking (Even a Little) + Driving = Not Safe At All

Spain Cuts Speed Limit to Save Gas, Economy, and Carbon

Can That Traffic Really Give You A Stroke?

Photo by editorb


Danny Wilson
Danny Wilson6 years ago

And Bush and his cronies, the wall street fraudsters and rich people in general don't even get charged no matter what their crimes are but thank God somebody is prosecuting jay-walkers: we're saved!

Lynne B.
Lynne Buckley6 years ago

This is just dumb. I can't see why the prosecution thought that this was a good idea. There won't be a moment in the mother's life when she won't regret or wish that she'd done it differently.

Anne-Marie V.
Anne-Marie Vogl6 years ago


Sheri Bender-Schongold
Sheri Schongold6 years ago

It was announced that the mother will not be going to jail. She will be on probation and have to do community service. I am glad to hear that, but I am still livid to think that the drunk driver is only getting 6 months (and you know he will be out before that) and nothing else. I hape/pray that he lost his licence, although he is the kind of person who doesn't care if he has a license. He needs a car and lots of drinks and his day is made. Where is his community service? Will he be on probation when he gets out? Drink - no problem just a minor slap on the hand. Try to save your child - get the book thrown at you.

Dominic C.
Dominic C6 years ago

The Atlanta Court is grossly bias against these pedestrians. Perhaps there needs to be some sort of inquiry on the manner and behaviour the Judge and Prosecution have conducted themselves.

Sue Touchette
.6 years ago

Are these people living in a different dimension?

Marcheal G.
Marcheal G6 years ago

The city needs to be punished.

Christine K.
Christine K6 years ago

Thank GOD there's a judge with more common sense than the prosecutor!

Marianne C.
Marianne C6 years ago

I hope she eventually sues the city for not putting a crosswalk between the bus stops, and the county for wrongful prosecution. I've thought all along that this over-zealous prosecution of the mother was little more than an attempt to avoid suits against the city/county over the obvious lack of safety measures.

Danielle K.
Danielle K6 years ago

Thanks for the update, April. While I'd rather not see her be punished anymore than she already has, at least she can stay at home with her other children. And thank goodness a crosswalk is now there so folks like Ms. Nelson and her family can cross safely (unless some speed demon on drugs comes along again).