An Upstate man was sentenced Monday after entering a guilty plea to charges in connection with the death of his 7-year-old stepdaughter.
In March 2017, 36-year-old Donald Jerry Harris got behind the wheel with a blood-alcohol level of .10. Investigators said while driving along Tornado Road in Honea Path, he began to drift toward the right side of the road and over corrected, running off the left side of the road.
He then jerked the vehicle back right, causing the SUV to roll over with his wife and three children inside.
One of the children, 7-year-old Abigail Faith Harris, was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected during the crash. She passed away at the scene.
The 27-year-old female passenger suffered a broken neck and spine and was airlifted to the hospital, according to family, and Harris required surgery for critical injuries. A 4-year-old and 20-month-old in the SUV only suffered minor injuries.
Harris' mother lied to investigators and claimed to be driving the vehicle at the time of the crash. She later pleaded guilty to obstructing justice.
Harris pleaded guilty to felony DUI resulting in death, felony DUI resulting in great bodily injury, child endangerment, and driving under suspension.
According to a background check, he was previously convicted in 2007 of two counts of felony DUI resulting in death and felony DUI with great bodily injury.
He was sentenced to 18 years in prison on Monday.
“There are no sadder days than the days on which families have to bury a child for senseless, reckless behavior,” said Solicitor David Stumbo. “While there is no conviction or sentence that can bring little Abby back, it is my hope and prayer that those who loved her can gain some closure by knowing Donald Harris will not be able to endanger the lives of any other human beings for a long time to come.”
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