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Family of Deadly Crash Victim Pleads for Mercy & Compassion

After the family of a deadly crash victim pleaded for compassion, an Army veteran from Lackawanna County was sentenced Wednesday.
They were best friends for 15 years.

One of them was killed in a crash and now the other will spend time in prison.

Wednesday was an emotional day in Lackawanna County court as Army veteran Matthew Gajdys was sentenced.

Gajdys was sentenced to between 11 and 22 months in prison. That is a county sentence as opposed to a state prison sentence which is rare in a homicide by vehicle case.

The decision came only after the victim's family pleaded for compassion and mercy.

Gajdys was arrested in February. After watching video of him in handcuffs, the family of victim Michael Evans say they saw a friend hurting and broken and they started to forgive him.

"My brother was my best friend. I miss him every second of every day," Jim Evans Jr, the victim's brother said.

"We didn't want an eye-for-an-eye or a tooth-for-a-tooth. We desired mercy," Kim Evans, the victim's mother said.

Gajdys admitted to driving drunk and crashing into a tractor trailer in Clifton Township, near Moscow.

Gajdys was an Army veteran who served in Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan and never got help when he came home. Friends say he turned to alcohol and Mike Evans tried to help him.

Mike Evans family say forgiveness is now the only way forward.

"I knew if I didn't forgive him, I had to fill my heart with love for my brother's son because if not it would be hate and Mike wouldn't want that. He wouldn't want us to hate," sister Mary Considine said.

Family members of Mike Evans are now pushing lawmakers to do more to help Army veterans returning home from war.

They're also looking to fix what they call a weakness in state law involving "BYOB" clubs which Matt and Mike were at right before the deadly crash.

"A BYOB -- or bring your own bottle-type club -- has no responsibilities whatsoever," victim's father Jim Evans said. "If you fall down on your way out the door because you're drunk, they can literally pick you up, give you your keys, put you in the car and let you drive home."

Besides prison, Matthew Gajdys will have to serve five years probation and perform 1,000 hours community service.

Because he has been in prison since his arrest, he could be eligible to be released from prison beginning in January.
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