VERO BEACH, Fla. - It was an emotional day in the Indian River Court when Jamie Williams changed her plea from “not guilty” to “no contest” for her role in the death of 16-year old Cole Coppola in 2014.
Williams was emotionless when the judge handed down the sentence of 7 years in prison with a minimum of four years served.
According to police, on Sept. 27, 2014 at 1:50 a.m., Williams was driving under the influence when her car hit Cole’s bike, sending him over the 17th Street Bridge in Vero Beach.
He died of several injuries including broken ribs and brain trauma.
On Thursday, Cole’s father told the judge that he will never forget that night.
“I remember kissing his beautiful face,” Cole’s father said. "It was ice cold. It looked like he was asleep. And I remember feeling his broken body underneath carefully draped sheets.”
Williams plead “no contest” instead of “guilty”, maintaining her claim that Cole’s bike was not in the bike lane. Her lawyer, Alan Landman, told WPTV on Thursday while that is still her stance, she has accepted her role in Cole’s death.
“Since day one she’s been looking into the mirror accepting respoiislbility for what she did,” Landman said.
The courtroom was packed with many of Cole’s friends, wearing shirts with the slogan "Live Like Cole."
His grandmother appealed to everyone in an emotional testimony to never drink and drive.
“I want all of you to understand that this is a preventable crime, this is an unnecessary crime,” Cole’s grandmother said. "This is a tragic and sad crime, not just for us but for her.”
At the end of the hearing, Williams was lead out of the courtroom by officers.
Many in the community want changes to the bridge where the tragedy occurred in 2014.
Shannon Holzmann founded a petition on change.org, urging officials to put up barriers between bikers and drivers on the bridge.
Two years after Cole’s death, little has changed.
“They’ve only done some painting and some new light fixtures,” Holzmann said.
She said officials told her they would have to widen the bridge and they simply don’t have the money to do that.
“There’s pretty much nothing else we can do at this point,” Holzmann said.
Holzmann wears the “Live Like Cole” bracelet every day and she said he is sorely missed in the community where he stood out for his volunteering and love for life.