Grandmothers Seeking Justice for Granddaughter and Great-Granddaughter Killed in McLean County Crash

The women say the boyfriend of the 23-year-old granddaughter has been found responsible and was indicted on 12 charges, but the Commonwealth Attorney is offering a low sentence, which they believe does not offer the justice the victims deserve.

Posted: Sep 13, 2021 10:04 PM
Updated: Sep 14, 2021 12:24 AM

It's still painful for Amy Lehman to think back to March 18. It was the day her 23-year-old granddaughter Shawna Rodney and 3-year old great-granddaughter Emberlyn were killed in a tragic car accident in McLean County, Kentucky.

"We tried not to step on toes so we could at least have the babies and that was one night we just didn't keep them," Lehman said, wiping away tears.

That pain is shared with Heather Kopp, Emberlyn's paternal grandmother.

"It was just...surreal...it was absolutely surreal to think both the girls are gone," Kopp added.

After Kentucky State Police first determined a dump truck driver was at fault, further investigation revealed Dylan Cole Howard, Shawna's boyfriend, was actually the one who caused the crash, which also killed another driver.

"We knew it," Lehman and Kopp said, echoing each other.

The two said both Shawna and Howard were drug users and according to official documents, Howard was found to be driving under the influence of narcotics at the time of the crash.

"The level of fentanyl in his system - things just started adding up," Lehman said. "Grief turns into anger, you know, I haven't allowed myself to grieve yet."

The family shared the accident report with 44News, which shows Howard received a total of 12 charges, including three counts of murder, 1st degree assault, wanton endangerment and trafficking of a controlled substance, but the family says the Commonwealth Attorney on the case is offering a combined sentence of 20 years, giving Howard the possibility of parole after five. It's a sentence the grandmothers believe does not offer the justice all three victims deserve.

"I don't want him to go away for life. Isaiah deserves more than that," Lehman said. "It's bittersweet, because here we have one surviving child who's lost his mom, his sister and his dad, but for me, I think for us 10 years minimum."

44News reached out to the Commonwealth Attorney for comment, though didn't get a response, but Howard's pre-trial is Monday and these grandmothers hope the Commonwealth Attorney will have a change of heart and see Howard held accountable for that tragic day.

"They deserve a fight, not just surrender," Kopp said. "We need to fight for these girls and for anybody who would have came along and he would have given the fentanyl or whatever to."

Until then, they'll continue to wait and hope the justice they're seeking is found because only then will they finally be able to move forward.

"We're not ever going to forget, we're not ever going to be completely healed from this," Lehman said. "But I think in time it will lessen, it won't ache as much."

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Sure, yesterday's passing cold front and lingering rainfall made for a cooler-than average, fall-like day across the Tri-State - today on the other hand, was a bit more summer-like. The core of high pressure flowing in behind that cold front has now settled to our east and is actively pumping southerly winds, more heat and gulf humidity back into the Ohio valley. As a result, temperatures pushed back into the mid 80s for the majority of the region; the added humidity even made it feel a few degrees hotter as well. As for the rest of the evening, conditions will remain dry with temperatures gradually falling from 80° around dinnertime into the mid to low 70s by 10PM. The combination of added cloud cover overnight and those aforementioned southerly winds will help keep temperatures mild tonight - we'll only dip as low as 67° early Friday morning in the River City.
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