On July 6, 2021, 17-year-old Keshyra Hodge was driving her BMW in excess of 100mph when she struck a Kia Soul driven by Robert Ehrenberg. The 62-year-old Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office employee, and his passenger, Glorida Ludwig, were both killed as they pulled into a Wellington neighborhood.
Plea deal lands driver 5-year prison sentence
Hodge spent just two days in jail after being charged with vehicular homicide before bonding out and going back to Seminole Ridge High School in Loxahatchee. She attended prom and was able to walk across the stage at graduation, much to the disappointment of Robert Ehrenberg’s daughter, Lee-Ann Piper.
While Piper and her family members were not opposed to a plea deal, they were taken back by the five-year prison sentence the prosecutor offered in exchange for a guilty plea by Hodge. Their desire to see a longer sentence imposed by Circuit Judge Caroline Shepherd seemed to be undermined by the sisters of victim Gloria Ludwig, who told the judge they wanted to “resolve the case and move on.” Although Shepherd considered the request of the Ehrenberg family urged Shepherd to reject the deal and sentence Hodge to a longer prison term to account for the loss of their father, it was to no avail. On Tuesday, August 8, the judge accepted the plea deal, noting that no amount of time in prison could make up for the Ehrenberg’s loss. However, Shepherd warned Hodge that if she broke the law between the sentencing date and when she is scheduled to turn herself in on September 8, the five-year penalty would “double.”
Ehrenberg accident scene a “horrific” site
Although Keshyra Hodge claimed she was driving the speed limit on her way home from work at the Mall at Wellington Green on that July, 2021 night, computer data from the BMW she was driving would show that the car reached a speed of 107 mph in a 40-mph zone before she slammed on the brakes. The car slammed into the passenger’s side of Robert Ehrenberg’s vehicle at 101 mph. Despite wearing seatbelts, Ehrenberg and Gloria Ludwig were pronounced dead at the scene. Hodge and her teenaged passenger were treated for minor injuries.
Speeding, reckless driving led to fatal crash
According to the arrest report, surveillance-camera footage revealed that Keshyra Hodge, and another driver, 16-year-old Antajah Richards were racing as they drove home. In November, 2022, Richards pleaded guilty to two counts of reckless driving in exchange for a one-year prison sentence, with credit for the four months she had already spent in jail.
Resolution is bittersweet for Ehrenberg daughter
Lee-Ann Piper called the plea deal “incomprehensible,” and said “justice demands a punishment that fits the gravity of the crime.” She was especially disappointed because her dad was a civilian employee at the Sheriff’s Office central records department, who would have completed his 23rd year with the agency in August.
According to Hodge’s attorney, Scot Skier, the resolution was fair, as Hodge faced 18 years in prison had she gone to trial and been convicted. “That’s too big of a swing,” Skier said. “You have to accept those five years and forgo your opportunity to argue the facts.” In addition to the five-year sentence, Hodge will remain on probation for five years after she is released. She must also perform 30 speaking engagements – six per year – at schools to warn about the dangers of speeding and reckless driving.
Ehrenberg, Ludwig families may have case for Wrongful Death Claim
According to Florida Statute 768.21, the definition of wrongful death is: “When a person or entity causes another person’s death by a wrongful act, negligence, default, or breach of contract or warranty.” In other words, a wrongful death occurs when one person (the “decedent”) dies due to the legal fault of another party, including as a result of:
A negligence based act like a car accident or slip and fall
Professional negligence such as medical malpractice
A defective product
An intentional act (including a crime)
Who can file a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Florida?
A personal representative of the decedent’s estate must file a wrongful death suit. The representative can claim damages on behalf of surviving family members, including a spouse, children, parents, or other dependents. A personal representative is the executor of the estate, as outlined in the victim’s will. If they decedent did not have a will, or did not select an executor, the court will appoint someone.
Damages that can be awarded
Damages can be awarded to both the estate and to the family. Damages awarded to the estate cover the economic losses of the deceased, for example:
Lost wages from the date of the injury up until death.
The value of wages that the deceased could have been expected to earn and leave as part of their estate if they had lived.
Any costs that were paid directly by the estate, such as medical bills and funeral costs.
The family can be awarded BOTH economic and non-economic damages, including:
Medical/funeral expenses that were paid for by a surviving family member.
Economic losses of surviving family members who relied on financial support from the deceased.
Pain and suffering damages, which are designed to compensate for emotional suffering. Examples may include loss of parental guidance and loss of companionship/affection.
It’s also important to know that the defendant does not need to be found guilty of any crime in order for them to be liable for damages in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Why choose GOLDLAW to file your Wrongful Death Claim?
GOLDLAW’s West Palm Beach wrongful death attorneys have the experience and expertise to help guide you through every step of the wrongful death claims process and ensure that your rights are protected. If you have lost a loved one die to someone else’s negligence, GOLDLAW is the ONLY choice for you:
We fully understand your pain and anguish, and we will handle your case with the compassion and dedication it deserves.
We know money can’t bring back your loved one, but we will obtain what you rightfully deserve to make this process easier for you.
We have a proven track record of winning substantial amounts of compensation for our clients.
To see if you have a wrongful death claim, contact GOLDLAW or call us at 561-222-2222.