In a calm and composed tone, Kimberly Fisher sat in the witness box of a Travis County courtroom Thursday and spoke to the man whose actions took the life of her daughter, Haley Elizabeth Nowak, in a predawn crash in July 2011.
“What I want you to know today is that you are getting something that Haley didn’t get, and that’s a second chance,” Fisher said.
She said she was sorry for herself and her family, and that she was sorry for him and his family, too, and that “the hardest and most painful part of this puzzle is that she was left alone.”
Fisher spoke after Tommie Lee Egger was sentenced to seven months in state jail for criminally negligent homicide and 180 days in the Travis County Jail for failure to stop and render aid involving a death. He also received 10 years’ probation and is prohibited from visiting bars or being in downtown Austin from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. during that period.
Egger pleaded guilty this month to the charges, which were brought after prosecutors said the man, 24, crashed his 2008 Ford Mustang with Nowak, 20, in the passenger seat in the early morning hours of July 1, 2011, and left the scene. The crash followed a night of drinking at three or four downtown Austin bars with friends and meeting Nowak, who, Egger testified after he was sentenced, told him she needed a ride.
Under questioning from Assistant Travis County District Attorney Craig Moore, Egger said Nowak accompanied him and his friends to his Southwest Austin home, where his friends had left their car. When Nowak saw the Mustang, she told him it was a nice car and asked him to take her for a ride. Less than a mile from his home, Egger said, he lost control and crashed while driving too fast.
“The very last impact happened to be more on her side of the car,” Egger said. “I blacked out and woke up and there was blood everywhere.”
When he regained consciousness, he said, he couldn’t revive Nowak or get her door open. He unsuccessfully tried to start the car to drive to a nearby hospital and couldn’t find his phone to call for help so — suffering from a concussion and blood loss — he started walking toward the hospital, only to black out again along the roadside for several hours. When he later returned, the scene had been cleaned up and his Mustang was gone. Then, Egger said, he called his lawyer.
District Judge Karen Sage admonished Egger to adhere to the strict terms of his probation, saying if he violated them she would send him away for more prison time.
“It troubles me that Haley’s mom said ‘sorry’ more than you did,” Sage said.