MADERA COUNTY – An Oakhurst man appeared in Madera Superior Court yesterday to be sentenced in a deadly vehicle accident that took the life of 26-year-old Davin Clymore in February 2013.
Charles Hagood, 60, was sentenced to 3 years probation and 300 hours of community service after being found guilty on June 25 of vehicular manslaughter “without malice,” which is a misdemeanor.
The accident happened on Feb. 27, 2013, at around 5 p.m. on Highway 152, when Hagood crossed the center median and struck Clymore’s vehicle head-on, killing the young man. Hagood suffered minor injuries.
In court, Hagood said he had no memory of the accident or how it happened, and there was testimony that he had experienced episodes of fainting prior to the incident.
Deputy District Attorney Benjamin Levy argued that Hagood should spend time in jail, having chosen to drive when he had a history of fainting.
“He should be required to serve some time, at least 180 days, to show him and others that there are consequences for these choices and this will not be tolerated.” Levy also asked that Hagood not be eligible for work furlough.
Davin Clymore’s father Richard, a Fresno chiropractor, addressed the court, stating that Hagood should not have been driving, and that this tragedy could have been avoided if he had exercised responsibility and informed the DMV of his medical condition.
“The recommendation of the Probation Department of 200 hours of community service and no jail time is a slap on the wrist,” said Clymore. “The defendant killed someone, and the evidence shows that he was negligent and was aware of the risk. We’ve lost money in time away from our practice, we’ve incurred funeral costs and have gone through counseling, and we are left without our son and our best friend. Davin was in his prime; he had his whole life ahead of him. Mr. Hagood still has his life and nothing bad to look forward to if he’s just going to be put on probation. He shouldn’t have been driving.”
Both Levy and Clymore cited the defendant’s perceived lack of remorse as an additional reason why he should spend time in jail for his actions.
“We’ve gotten no apology from him,” said Clymore. “He’s only concerned about himself. If I had caused something like this, I would have sought out the parents and apologized.”
Hagood’s attorney told the court that with the pending civil litigation, his client was advised not to have contact with the Clymore family. However, Richard Clymore notes that there wasn’t a case filed against the defendant in this matter until nearly a year after the accident, neither criminal nor civil, and that they received no communication from Mr. Hagood during that time.
Hagood’s attorney also argued that his client, who has been battling throat cancer, has no criminal history, maintains a clean driving record, and was assessed at the absolute lowest risk level by the Probation Department. He asked the judge to allow his client to continue to work to support his family and their disabled son.
A letter from Mr. Hagood was then read into the record where he expressed his deep remorse over the loss of Davin Clymore, and said a day does not go by where the accident doesn’t weigh heavily on his mind. He also noted that throughout extensive medical evaluations following the accident, he was never advised not to drive, though he abstained from driving voluntarily.
Hagood’s wife Diane also addressed the court and the Clymore family, sharing her own story of losing a child, and acknowledging that “nothing will ever fill the void.” She also said that her husband feels deep remorse for what happened, and that it has changed his life forever.
Judge Soldani was somber and thoughtful in delivering his ruling on sentencing in this case.
“I wish there was something the justice system could do that would take away your pain, your suffering and your loss. But there isn’t,” he said. “If I thought that sentencing Mr. Hagood to jail for any period of time would, in some way, make the victim’s family feel better, I wouldn’t hesitate. But that’s not going to help you. The thing that will help the family, in my experience, is to find forgiveness.”
The judge sentenced Mr. Hagood to 300 hours of community service and 3 years probation. He was also ordered to pay over $1,100 in fines and fees.
Richard Clymore and his wife Debra have filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court against Hagood and his employer, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), alleging that the FRA knew of Hagood’s medical condition and that he was taking drugs that would have impaired his ability to perform his job. Hagood was on the job and driving a Dodge Durango owned by the FRA at the time of the accident, according to court documents.
Davin Richard Clymore was 26 years old at the time of his death. He graduated from Clovis West High School, and then from UC Fullerton with a degree in business finance. He was attending Palmer College of Chiropractic in San Jose with plans to join the family practice in Fresno.
While Davin’s family understands that Mr. Hagood did not set out to cause the death of this young man, they are not satisfied with the punishment imposed and the fact that he will serve no jail time for taking a life.
“There’s been no justice here,” said Davin’s uncle Craig Harbin. “The judge did what he had to do, but there’s been no justice.”
The Haygood family returned our calls but were unable to comment pending the civil litigation.