TAMPA, Fla. – Charles Meininger, 17, was sentenced on Friday for his crime, but he did something extraordinary before heading to prison. He owned his mistakes and apologized to the victim’s family directly.
“There are no words to describe any of this. The things I’ve taken from you, the man I took from you,” said Meininger.
His horrible decision came on the night of October 22, 2022, and would change two families forever. Prosecutors said Meininger was speeding – going over 100 mph – when he ran a red light and slammed into Michael Hoerig’s driver’s side door at the intersection of Suncoast Parkway and Lutz Lake Fern Road.
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The 20-year-old later died of his injuries after the crash.
His mother, Gina Hoerig, said her son was doing good things in the community. He was a teen mentor and a bodybuilder with big dreams that will now never be realized.
“I believe Michael would want you to pay a price for taking his life, but I also feel that he would want you to be young enough to get out of prison and still have the opportunity to make something of your life after you’re sentenced,” said Hoerig.
Now one later, with the blessing of the Hoenig family, the state attorney’s office worked out a deal with Meininger and his attorney, Anthony Rickman. The young defendant is going away for nine years, but before heading to prison, he had some final words of contrition.
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“There’s no amount of punishment they can make up for what I did, nothing at all. But what I can promise you is this, that no matter what I do with my life I will live it through Michael, and I will make sure whatever I do, I will honor him. I promise that to each and every one of you. I’m so sorry,” said Meininger.
Under his plea agreement, Meininger will also serve six years of probation and have his driver’s license suspended for six years.