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ATV crash victims remembered

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September 20, 2006

Coffee County -- Loved ones of five children killed in an ATV crash honored those lost lives tonight on the third anniversary of the crash. Last month a jury convicted a driver involved in the crash of DUI but acquitted her of vehicular homicide charges.

It was a time to reflect on more than just the lives of five young people who died. Family members still remember the woman driver who crashed into the ATV killing five of the six children on board.

"She doesn't accept any responsibility and that's one of the things I have the hardest time with because I don't believe in drinking and driving," said Ann Varnedore.

Amanda Troupe told a jury last month the crash wasn't her fault, although she was convicted of drunk driving.

The memory of the five victims remains alive at the crash site.

"To me my feelings still haven't changed, I still go day by day missing the youngins," said Terri Joyner.

Three years later the families' pain of losing the five children cuts deep.

"Can't touch her, can't hold her," said Ronda Nelson.

Meagan Nelson's mother Ronda says her hope was with God, not the jury that found Amanda Troupe guilty only on one DUI charge.

"There's no fear of God in this county, and that's the reason we are how we are. They better start getting on their knees. It ain't over with," said Ronda Nelson.

And just as the memories of Meagan Nelson, Lindsay Joyner, Courtney Arsenal, and Kayla and Dustin Varnedore remain, so does the jury's decision, in the minds of the families who lost loved ones.

"I don't think we got a fair hearing here in Coffee County. I don't think we'll ever get a fair hearing. I think there are too many families that are too close," said Ann Varnedore.

These families say they don't have closure yet, but hold on to the hope that one day justice will be served.

The families presented the State Patrol's specialized collision reconstruction team with t-shirts and plaques bearing the names of the five children as a sign of appreciation.

Amanda Troupe will spend nine months in custody in a probation detention center.

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