Pawtucket man gets 15 years in DUI crash that killed 3 women

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — 23-year-old James Belanger of Pawtucket is headed to the ACI for the next 15 years, after admitting Friday his drunk driving caused the deaths of three young women from West Warwick who were riding in his car last year.

“I’m sorry,” Belanger repeated in court, as he broke down in tears.

Belanger crashed that car into a pole on Walcott Avenue in Pawtucket in April 2017, splitting the car in half and killing 22-year-old Fatima Rosa, 20-year-old Emily Howell, and 24-year-old Teresa Leary. He then fled the scene on foot.

“I ask myself why this happened over and over. I can’t even imagine what her last thoughts were,” said Courtney Howell, Emily Howell’s sister. 

Belanger was often tearful in court Friday, saying he despises himself for what he’s done.

“I wish that night if anyone would get hurt it would be myself,” said Belanger. 

Family and friends of the victims spoke directly to Belanger, saying an apology won’t bring their loved ones back.

“I wish I could say I can forgive you but I can’t. I hate you for what you’ve done to me and these families,” said Danielle Searcy, a friend of Teresa Leary.

But Teresa Leary’s mother Lisa Sherman left the door open to redemption, saying Belanger needs to make some major changes in his own life. 

“I want a life for a life,” said Belanger. “He’s going to need to learn how to demonstrate a respect for life, so that he can positively impact the world in the ways that they would have done, had they lived.”

When he gets out of prison, Belanger faces 15 years probation, and will lose his license for eight years. 

© WLNE-TV / ABC6 2018