PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Cayla Wilson was 19 and pregnant when she was hit by a driver high on meth in 2010. The crash left her in a vegetative state until she died in March 2018.
On Friday, it was an emotional day in a Multnomah County courtroom for her family as the driver, Jack Whiteaker, was sentenced. The 62-year-old pleaded no contest in October and was found guilty of manslaughter.
Over the last 8 years of her life, Cayla was surrounded by the endless and unconditional love of family members who spoke in court.
“I had to let go the kid I once knew and accept the new Cayla I had because she couldn’t talk, she couldn’t move,” her father, Bill Wilson, said.
“Cayla was a fighter. That girl died twice. The second time we lost her. And I’d do anything to have that girl back,” he said. “I still live day-to-day missing her. But I have such a beautiful granddaughter that God has given us. And we’re lucky to have her.”
Cayla suffered major brain injuries in the crash. Weeks later she delivered her baby by emergency C-section and her baby girl, now 9, survived.
About 2 years after the crash, Whiteaker was sentenced to 11 years in prison for what was then assault and DUII. After her death, prosecutors added the manslaughter charge to which he was later convicted.
Friday’s sentence — 16 years — essentially adds 5 years to his current prison sentence. Another 3 years of post-prison supervision was added. His driving license was revoked for life.
‘It’s wrong and it’s not fair’
Cayla’s Mom and Dad made impact statements before Whiteaker was officially sentenced, as did her cousin and aunt. Family members said they’ve never heard any remorse from Whiteaker.
“So I ask myself any amount of time that Jack Whiteaker could serve will not make up for the loss of my daughter. Absolutely not,” said Cayla’s mother, Denise Wilson. “She did serve her life sentence. He should have had to serve a life sentence. She didn’t get a third chance at life, but she’s gone forever and there’s nothing I can do to change that. He will get out and get a life again. And it’s wrong and not fair.”
Cayla’s aunt, Jamie Bell, said she had a heart of gold.
“She would give her shirt off her back for anybody, and for her to have to through what she went through for those years and pass away, it’s heartbreaking,” Bell said.
Cayla’s daughter told the judge she one day wants to be a doctor or police officer.
“My wife and I are just trying to move forward and with my granddaughter. We hope we can make it there soon,” Bill said.
He said reliving the crash and aftermath “is never easy, especially looking at those pictures right there. That child just didn’t deserve this.”
“My family will never get over the loss,” Denise Wilson said. “I do hope and pray we can find the strength and move forward one day.”
Whiteaker did not speak in court.
On April 15, 2010, Whiteaker was high on meth when his Jeep veered across the centerline of SE Jenne Road and smashed nearly head-on into Cayla’s 1990 Buick.
In 2012, Judge Jerry Hodson sentenced him to 11 years in prison, the maximum allowed for what he was convicted — DUII and assault.
In 2014, a jury awarded the Wilson family $9.3 mililon — $4.8 million from Clackamas County Corrections and the rest from the City of Portland.
Her parents, Bill and Denise, told KOIN 6 News at the time the money would help take care of Cayla and her daughter, who they are raising.
After Cayla died in 2018, prosecutors leveled a manslaughter charge against Whiteaker.
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