‘Our lives were shattered:’ Man sentenced to 14 years in Clay County DUI crash that killed baby girl

In December 2018, Sophie, her mom and grandmother were hit by a drunk driver after getting photos taken with Santa.

6-month-old Sophie Grace Leon Friesenhahn was killed in a five-vehicle crash in Clay County in 2018.

Below is her first and last photo taken with Santa Claus, taken on Dec. 17, 2018. Sophie, her mom and grandma were hit by a drunk driver right after the photo was taken.

On Thursday, the man who hit them was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

The family and the state asked a judge to give Randy Teal Jr. the maximum sentence -- 28 years.

Teal apologized directly to Sophie’s mom in court and said that day still haunts him.

Sophie’s aunt said the family hasn’t been the same since her death. She said that Christmas, the presents remained unopened and all they have left are those pictures with Santa.

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The girl’s family wore purple shirts and held a photo of Sophie in court.

“We’ve waited two-and-a-half years to be here for this day to speak up for Sophie since she can’t,” Sophie’s grandmother Rebecca Friesenhahn said.

While Sophie was riding home with her mother and grandmother on Blanding Boulevard after getting her picture taken with Santa, Teal hit their car, causing a five-car pileup. He was driving 57 miles per hour and deputies say he was drunk.

Monitors inside the courtroom on Thursday displayed purple letters spelling out “Sophie Grace.”

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“There’s not enough words that could ever describe what we’ve gone through, describe the minutes, hours, seconds, days, leading up to this moment,” Sophie’s aunt Hannah Leon said.

Nine of Sophie’s family members spoke, including Sophie’s mother Abby and her grandmother Nannette Green who were also in the wreck.

“Our lives were shattered that day and will never be the same,” Green said.

Teal pleaded guilty to DUI manslaughter and DUI serious injury. In court, he gave an emotional apology to Sophie’s family.

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“To Abigail, Sophie’s mom, I am truly sorry you lost the most precious mother daughter moments as the result of my actions,” Teal said.

For Sophie’s family, the sentencing represents closure.

“The strength, I believe for everybody here, is this beautiful baby right here,” Friesenhahn said.

In addition to his 14-year sentence, Teal will also have to pay restitution not just to Sophie’s family, but the other people involved in the crash.

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