Dad of 15-year-old who crashed SUV, killing 3 Bucks County teens, sentenced to prison

HONESDALE, Pa. (WPVI) -- A suburban New York man who allowed his unlicensed 15-year-old daughter to drive an SUV that crashed in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains, killing three teenage boys from Bucks County, was sentenced Thursday to up to 16 years in prison by a judge who called his actions "reckless, stupid and selfish."

Wayne County President Judge Ray Hamill said he gave 54-year-old Michael Ware a punishment in the higher range of state sentencing guidelines because he lied to investigators and allowed his daughter to take the blame.

The crash on Aug. 30, 2014, killed Ryan Lesher, Shamus Digney and Cullen Keffer, all 15-year-old sophomores at Council Rock High School in suburban Philadelphia. Three others were hurt.

Parents of the three dead teenagers spoke in court of their pain and anger toward Ware.

"Your desire to be the cool dad devastated an entire community," said Ryan's mother, Lisa Lesher.

Ware apologized in a brief statement.

"I cannot begin to say how sorry I am," Ware, of Scarsdale, told the court. "Neither I nor my daughter meant any harm to anyone that day. May those boys rest in peace."

The judge called Ware's actions "preventable, irresponsible, reckless, stupid and selfish" in sentencing him to 6 years to 16 years behind bars.

Three students from Council Rock High School South were killed in a rollover SUV crash in the Poconos on Saturday, August 30, 2014.

Ware's lawyer, Robert Reno, had asked for a sentence of 12 to 23 months. He called the sentence "ridiculous" and said they would appeal.

Ware pleaded guilty last month to three counts of involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment in the crash.

Prosecutors say Ware gave the keys of his Chevrolet Suburban to his daughter, who drove five friends to breakfast before losing control of the SUV and flipping it in Paupack Township.

"He basically gave his daughter a gun and put the bullets in it for her," said Wilson Black, Shamus' uncle.

Ware's daughter acknowledged responsibility in juvenile court to vehicular homicide counts and was placed on indefinite probation. She also was ordered to do 300 hours of community service, pay restitution and write a 2,000-word essay on the impact of her crime.

Her attorney, John Stieh, told The Philadelphia Inquirer in May that she was in a "really dark and nasty place" and "doesn't stop thinking about it." He said she hadn't spoken to her father since the crash.

Ware told reporters after his July guilty plea that he was "sorry, very sorry."
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