A Washington County man appeared in court for sentencing this week, originally facing up to 15 years in prison in connection to a fatal crash on State Route 18.

But prosecutors say the unexpected happened: the victim’s family made a “forgiving” decision to significantly reduce the charges.

Ian Schaefer, 24, of Enterprise originally faced a felony manslaughter charge after authorities said he crossed the center line and caused a head-on collision, killing a 24-year-old woman.

But with the approval of the victim’s family, Washington County Attorney Joseph Hood told ABC4 News the defendant will only serve four months in jail.

“A young woman, her life ahead of her, and she lost it as a result of his actions,” said Hood.

Attorneys say 24-year-old Wendy Pollock, also of Enterprise, was killed upon impact in the October 2018 crash.

Schaefer had worked a night shift and was driving recklessly, according to prosecutors.

Utah Highway Patrol troopers said they also listed Schaefer in extremely critical condition at the time of the crash, but he survived, moving to Louisiana shortly after he got out of the hospital.

On Tuesday, Schaefer returned to his home state to appear in the 5th District Court in St. George for sentencing, facing the Pollock family.

Prosecutors say that after months of negotiations, the family agreed that if Ian would plead guilty, he would be sentenced for a class A misdemeanor count of negligent homicide — instead of a second-degree felony.

“It comes back to the Pollock family, such wonderful people,” Hood said.

“They wanted justice, they wanted some acknowledgment, but they didn’t want to ruin his life.”

District Judge Jeffrey Wilcox sentenced the defendant to 120 days in jail and 2-year probation and ordered him to write a letter of apology to the Pollock family.

Hood said law enforcement immediately took Schaefer to jail in handcuffs.

Story provided by our news partners at ABC 4 News.

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