It's a tragedy that robbed a Sarasota County family of their loved one forever. But Monday, family and friends of Donna Chen finally got what they were waiting for: an apology.
Blake Talman was sentenced to 15 years in prison, after deputies say he was driving drunk and hit Chen with his car last year.
Talman was 22 years old. Chen was hit while she was jogging with her dog near Siesta Key.
Investigators say Talman's blood alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit after a day of drinking with friends at the beach.
That day ended up changing everything for two families.
"I never set out to hurt anybody. I'm very sorry for everything that's happened, everybody that's been affected by this," Talman said during his sentencing hearing Monday.
Chen's husband said even that doesn't heal the pain of losing his partner, and mother, to his three children.
"There's nothing that can be done today to bring her back. There's nothing that can be done over the next 15 years to bring her back. It's something we're all going to have to live with," Dr. Wellington Chen said.
Still, loved ones say Talman's apology is finally allowing them to take a step forward.
"When he made that statement today, it was a very big exhale for me to say, 'Ok, he did the right thing there,' and I do think he was genuinely sorry," Chen's sister-in-law, Colette MacPhail, said.
The family is also seeking justice through civil court. They say Donna's death could have been prevented.
Two Sarasota County deputies confronted Talman just 40 minutes before he hit Chen. They ordered Talman to leave because he was too drunk at the beach.
Loved ones say if they hadn't ordered Talman and his friends to leave, two families wouldn't have been destroyed.
"I hope peace is next. I know Donna is in peace," MacPhail said. "I'd like for us to be in peace and just celebrate the fact and be thankful that we have our family."
Chen's family is moving forward with the civil suit against the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office.
A hearing to set the trial date is Dec. 18.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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