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Teenager pleads guilty in crash killing 11-year-old in Springfield, Mo.

Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 11:17 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - A teenager charged in a crash killing an eleven-year-old girl entered a guilty plea in a Greene County courtroom.

Investigators say the case dating back to May of 2019 involves driver Mikaila Koch, 19, of Bolivar, is one about distracted driving. The crash killed Izabella Lightner. Under the deal, Koch will spend 10 days in jail, do 200 hours of community service, and serve probation for two years.

The crash happened on U.S. 65 in Springfield. Izabella was riding inside a car with her mother and sister. Investigators say Koch, 17 at the time, rear-ended the car at about 80-miles-an-hour. Koch faced charges of involuntary manslaughter and assault charges. She accepted a plea agreement, amending the charge to a misdemeanor of careless and imprudent driving.

About ten of the little girl’s loved ones attended the hearing. In victim impact statements, the family of Lightner expressed anger toward Koch and dissatisfaction with the plea agreement. There were many tears, as Izabella’s mom, grandma, sister, and two friends shared the impact of her death.

Koch also spoke for a moment in the courtroom, offering her apologies to Izabella’s loved ones.

Koch told investigators she was adjusting bags on the passenger side of her vehicle and took her eyes off the road for about “three seconds.” She veered to the left a second before the crash, but rear-ended the car in front of her, pushing it into the guardrail. Izabella’s family members say the guardrail was driven through her body. The girl died at the scene.

The prosecution says Mikaila Koch’s lack of criminal history, abiding by her bond conditions, and desire to accept responsibility led them to offer the plea deal.

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