Mother of man killed in car crash asks judge not to send driver to jail

Crime Watch

IDAHO FALLS — An Idaho Falls man who killed his best friend in a fatal car crash will spend time on probation.

Jacob Koplin, 22, was sentenced Monday to 10 years with two years fixed and eight years indeterminate for vehicular manslaughter. District Judge Joel Tingey suspended the sentence for four years meaning Koplin will be on probation. Koplin was also ordered to pay a $2,000 fine and perform 200 hours of community service.

Koplin pleaded guilty to the charge as part of a plea agreement in June.

He is responsible for the crash that resulted in the death of Michael Tyler Hinckley, 21, in Aug. 2017, just one week after Hinckley returned home from serving a two-year LDS mission. Koplin also injured the four passengers in the truck that his vehicle hit head-on at 70 mph.

RELATED: Man facing vehicular manslaughter charge was driving 109 mph before fatal crash occurred

“We love him and we forgive him,” Hinckley’s mother said during Koplin’s sentencing Monday. “We don’t want him to go to jail.”

The courtroom was filled with the Hinckley and Koplin families. Hinckley’s mother said Koplin was one of her son’s three best friends growing up.

“I have no doubt Jake misses Tyler almost as much as I do,” she said.

Koplin’s defense attorney, Curtis Smith, said Koplin visits Hinckley’s grave every week. However, Hinckley’s father questioned Koplin’s remorse because Koplin never reached out to him or his wife to apologize.

“Jake didn’t just take one life,” Hinckley’s father said. “He took parts of many lives that can’t be put back.”

In his statements, Koplin said Hinckley was his best friend.

“What I did, I can’t take back,” Koplin said. “I take full responsibility for what I did and I am so sorry.”

He said the crash was a wake-up call and he wants to use that to educate the community on the dangers of reckless driving.

“The way you were driving – a serious accident was inevitable,” Tingey said during sentencing. “Tyler’s death creates a void that will never be filled.”

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