MCLEAN COUNTY, Ky. (WEHT) – A McLean County man was sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty in a car crash that killed three people in March.

Dylan Howard, 24, pleaded guilty last month to manslaughter, assault, wanton endangerment, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence and trafficking a controlled substance. According to KSP, Howard was driving under the influence on Highway 81 near Calhoun when he crossed the center line, sideswiped a dump truck and then crashed head on into another vehicle.

Two of Howard’s passengers, 23-year-old Shawna Rodney and three-year-old Emberlyn Howard were killed in the crash. The driver of the other vehicle, 35-year-old Joshua Fox was also killed.

This morning’s sentencing happens nearly nine months after the crash on Kentucky 81 north of Calhoun. Families of the three victims say they hope the healing process can start for everyone now.

“I think we’re going to be able to grieve now,” said Heather Kopp, Emberlyn Howard’s grandmother.
A video clip of Emberlyn was played a clip to a judge as part of family’s impact statements.

“It’s sad that a laugh makes us cry now. I don’t feel joy whenever I hear her laugh. I don’t feel Joy when I hear Shauna talk,” said Lexi Kyle, Shawna Rodney’s sister.

“I hear her laugh before every night before I go to bed. He needs to hear that before he goes, he needs to hear that,” added Amy Lehman, Shawna’s grandmother.

The families told the judge their loved one’s deaths shattered their lives, and their kindness was taken during emotional testimony. Howard was not in the courtroom during the sentencing. He only appeared via video conference.

“I wanted to see, ‘Are you remorseful?’ ‘Are you really remorseful?’ We don’t get to see him,” said Lehman.

“A lot of people suffered a big loss. I’m just hoping today helps with the healing process,” said Chester Ray, Howard’s father. He was in the courtroom, and said Howard wanted to say he was sorry for his actions.

“He was wanting to say something to the families and tell them that he was sorry for their loss. He is sorry for all this,” said Ray.

The families of the three victims say they hope that Howard can turn his life around while he serves his sentence.

(This story was originally published on December 6, 2021)