CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The man convicted of killing an Amelia County first responder in a 2019 crash has a message for the public. In a newly released video, Samuel Allebaugh, is warning about the dangers of distracted driving.
Allebaugh admitted to texting and driving, served an 8-month sentence, and is now out of jail. Learning from his own mistake, he’s urging people to put their phones down and pay attention.
In the roughly two-minute, powerful video, Allebaugh is sharing the reality of his life after accidentally taking a life more than two years ago.
“I served some time in jail, I’m on probation until 2040, I don’t have a license,” Allebaugh said.
In February of 2019, the then 57-year-old was driving a dump truck on Genito Road, when he looked down.
“I was on my phone– texting,” Allebaugh admitted. “I just glanced down at it for one second.”
In that split second, Allebaugh ran off the road, over-corrected, lost control, and smashed into a Honda. The driver of that Honda was Karen Giles. The 56-year-old was a member of the Amelia Emergency squad, a loving mother and grandmother.
“I walked up to the car and looked in the window,” Allebaugh recalled. “I knew already that it was too late.”
Giles died at the scene. Haunted by his mistake, Allebaugh says his life will never be the same, however, he’s trying to right his wrongs. Allebaugh has taken full accountability for his actions and has built a positive relationship with Giles’ family– including her daughter Meredith Spies.
“We talk just about every day,” said Spies. “He sends me his daily devotions and it’s great to have that positive connection from everything we’ve been through.”
Spies knows nothing will bring her late mother back, but says she has forgiven Allebaugh. The two have been working together to stop distracted driving. Spies has become a big advocate for safe driving, lobbying for legislative change, and working closely with Chesterfield Police on awareness campaigns
“I’m not a big person, I have a big God,” Spies told 8News. “It’s never been difficult for me to forgive Sam because the way that he’s taken ownership for his actions–coming to the truth and admitting everything. It was amazingly easy and I think that was only because God and his forgiveness.”
Allebaugh and Spies are forever connected. The two want people to put their phone down behind the wheel and “just drive”.
Experiencing the consequences first hand, Allebaugh hopes others won’t make the same mistake he did.
“The memory of taking a life because of my negligence and distraction will forever be with me,” said Allebaugh.
The video was released by Chesterfield County Police in an effort to raise awareness and remind people to not text and drive. The department released the video on Wednesday, which would have been Giles’ 58th birthday.
It is illegal to hold a cell phone while driving in Virginia. The hands-free law went into effect last year.