The parents of a Winnetka woman killed by a hit-and-run driver in New York last year were expecting the driver’s trial to begin Monday, until they got a call last week.
“The prosecutor called us because the judge wanted to get the victim’s family’s input on how they would feel about the terms of a guilty plea,” Andy McCausland, the father of Sarah McCausland, said Saturday.
Carol Boeck — the driver who killed the19-year-old Bard College student and her friend, 20-year-old Evelina Brown of Seattle — pleaded guilty Thursday in New York’s Dutchess County Court to aggravated vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of a personal injury accident.
The 64-year-old Red Hook, New York, woman, who initially also was charged with driving while intoxicated, faces seven to 21 years in prison. Her sentencing hearing begins Feb. 24.
“It is with a heavy heart that we at least hear that this woman took responsibility that she did this,” said Sarah’s mother, Sandra McCausland.
The two young women who were killed were students at Bard, a liberal arts school two hours north of New York City. They were walking with friends in nearby Tivoli, New York, on the night of Jan. 31, 2014, when Boeck’s vehicle hit them.
Boeck took off but was found and arrested shortly after.
McCausland, a 2013 New Trier High School graduate, was studying anthropology and linguistics at Bard.
Her father said the family was overwhelmed by the response to her death. At Bard, the Sarah McCausland and Evelina Martin Brown dormitory buildings are being built and are expected to be finished in August. Here, Winnetka Presbyterian — the family’s church — planted a yellow maple tree on its grounds to memorialize the young woman and the tree she loved to climb on her front lawn.
The McCauslands set up a $750 scholarship at New Trier to help one student each year who’s aiming for a career in the performing arts, one of their daughter’s great loves. The firt Sarah C. McCausland New Trier Performing Arts Scholarship was awarded last May.
In August, the Winnetka couple and their 16-year-old daughter Tori traveled to Iceland, Sarah’s favorite country, where they spread her ashes.
“She always wanted to be a world-traveler,” Sandra McCausland said.
They also brought back Iceland magnets for relatives and friends to place on their bumpers to memorialize their daughter.
Though they appreciate the support they’ve gotten, the year since their daughter’s death “has been a living hell,” Sandra McCausland said. “Our lives are just incomplete.”