The drunken driver who crashed into a family's car after Christmas and killed three young children is set to spend two decades in prison.
Thomas Hawks was sentenced Thursday to 22 years for the Dec. 30, 2018 crash that killed 5-year-old twins Alexander and Rosalie Mejia and their 1-year-old brother, Isaac. Their mother was seriously hurt.
After Hawks serves his sentence, he's set to be on probation for five years.
The children's parents said they're still heartbroken.
"You have to know how hard it is to see their empty beds. Issac's empty crib," the children's mother said.
Hawks said he will feel guilty for the rest of his life. When he is released, he said he will educate the public about the dangers of drinking and driving.
The judge looked at him and said, "You owe that to the Mejia family."
Hawks was speeding on Indian Head Highway in Oxon Hill after a Washington Redskins game. His blood alcohol level was 0.17 — twice the state's legal limit. He admitted to drinking 10 beers.
At about 9:40 p.m. Dec. 30, his truck slammed into the back of the Mejia family's sedan. The Silverado came to rest on top of the back of the Accord.
The three children died on impact.
The family, who lived in Falls Church, Virginia, had just gone to church.
“Their lives are cut short, but for the time that they were here, they knew nothing but love and joy,” their father, Alexis Mejia, previously told News4.
The children's mother, Juanita Mejia, said after the crash that her broken ribs made it hard to cry.
“When I cry, I cry with pain not only from my heart. Not only my heart hurts when I cry, but also my body physically.”
Hawks faced a maximum penalty of 36 years.
The Mejias, who immigrated from El Salvador, previously said they trusted that God would bring justice.
“Even if it’s not time in jail, just his lifetime here on Earth, God will give him what he deserves,” Juanita Mejia said.
Stay with News4 for more details on this developing story.
CORRECTION (Sept. 26, 2019, 3:33 p.m.): An earlier version of this story had an incorrect date for the crash.