Family Disappointed in Driver's Sentencing After Hero Firefighter Killed in DUI Crash - NBC Southern California

Family Disappointed in Driver's Sentencing After Hero Firefighter Killed in DUI Crash

"Our court system is a joke," the victim's son said.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Family of Firefighter Killed By DUI Driver Decries Sentencing

    The family of a veteran Colton firefighter struck and killed by a DUI driver is upset by what they consider to be a light sentenced for the man responsible for his death. Tony Shin reports for the NBC4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. on April 6, 2016. (Published Wednesday, April 6, 2016)

    After a hero Colton firefighter was struck by a drunken driver and killed last year, his family expected justice to be served in court Wednesday. They were angry and disappointed when the driver was sentenced to only six years and eight months in prison.

    "You wake up in the middle of night thinking about it," said Hunter Lodarski, the victim's son. He was with his father when his ATV was struck. "I think about it every day."

    David Lodarski was with the fire department for 37 years, 25 of them as a captain. He was killed just a week before he was slated to retire.

    He and his son were going off-roading on Reche Canyon Road when a car came up from behind, striking Lodarski.

    The impact of the crash sent Lodarski and his ATV tumbling into oncoming traffic in another lane. Part of the wreck was captured on a neighbor's surveillance footage.

    Kevin Paul Diehl was charged with being behind the wheel. He is a two-time DUI offender, authorities said.

    Now Lodarski's family, still mourning the gut-churning loss from that day in October 2015, said the sentence is just not enough.

    They say because Diehl took a life, he should serve life.

    During Diehl's sentencing, Cyndi Lodarski, David's widow, said she wanted Diehl to know who he had killed.

    "It was my once chance to fight for my husband," Cyndi Lodasrski said. "It was to tell the drunken driver who he killed."

    David was a loving husband, father of two sons and a veteran firefighter.

    "It's very ironic," Cyndi said. "Dave rolled for years on drunken drivers but it never touched our lives personally, it was his job."

    Prosecutors wanted more time for Diehl, and say laws for this type of crime are not tough enough.

    "In cases like this, vehicular homicide, you're never happy with the outcome because you can never make a family whole again," said Kimberly Dittrich, Riverside County Deputy District Attorney.

    But the fact that Diehl wanted to plead guilty from the beginning was something the DA had to take into account.

    "He wanted to accept responsibility, which we took into account during sentencing," Dittrich said.

    But David Loadarski's son says it's not enough.

    "Our court system is a joke," Hunter Lodarski said. "It's his second DUI and he killed my father, injured a couple of people, and six years? I mean that's nothing."

    During sentencing, family members held up this picture of David, hoping Diehl would apologize. But he never said anything to them.

    "I'd like to look the man in the eye who killed my dad," Hunter said. "But he wasn't even man enough to do that."

    Diehl's family members were present in court during his sentencing, but none spoke on his behalf. 

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