OILDALE, Calif - The Kern County District Attorney has filed felony charges against a deputy who ran down two people while responding to a call. Deputy John Swearengin is facing two counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.
Daniel Hiler and Crystal Jolley were killed on Dec. 16, 2011 of last year.
According to the investigation, deputy Swearengin was on his way to a call and driving in excess of 80 miles per hour when he hit and killed Hiler and Jolley. The pair was crossing the street on Norris Road near Diane Drive in Oildale. Eyewitnesses said at the time the deputy was driving in an unsafe manner.
Swearengin is scheduled to be in court two weeks from today for a felony arraignment. If convicted he faces up to seven years in prison.
Family and friends of both victims have been waiting to hear about the deputy's charges for almost a year and were filled with mixed emotions.
"It's hard watching this little boy grow up without his dad and my sister without her husband," said Tiffany Bright, would have been Hiler's sister-in-law.
Bright took Friday afternoon watching 3-year-old Caleb, Hiler's little boy. She believes the deputy only got a slap on the wrist.
"Even if the counts do go through, I don't think six years is anything compared to the forever loss of Daniel. The deputy will probably only end up getting probation," said Bright.
Both families say their lives will never be the same and the charges bring a little bit of closure, but not the justice they were hoping for.
"If you or I hit and killed someone, that would be gross negligence. Then I could understand those charges, but he was a sheriff deputy on duty. He should have known better. Therefore, he should be held to a higher accountability," said Mystery Clevenger, who is related to Crystal Jolley
Jolley's family also said the deputy responsible for her death should receive more than the charges he was given.
"He killed two people, I understand it was an accident, he should get all the time in the world to sit and think," said Clevenger.
Both families say now all they can do is sit and wait to see how the justice system plays out.