Ann Marie Getz, a Ransom woman, was sentenced Wednesday to 24 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections for her role in the traffic deaths of three members of the Jahn family of Dwight.
Circuit Court Judge Robert Marsaglia based his decision on the 43-year-old Getz on evidence and statements submitted during the sentencing and mitigation hearing Tuesday.
Getz had pleaded guilty in May to aggravated driving under the influence.
The statements included those by Joshua Jahn of Dwight, whose family died in the accident, and by Tom and Kandi Borneman of Morris, parents to Josh’s wife and grandparents to his children.
The accident took the lives of Amanda Jahn, 27, and the couple’s only children, Ryan,4, and Kaitlyn, 11 1/2 months. Josh was at home at the time of the accident, awaiting his family’s return from visiting her parents in Morris.
The accident occurred about 8 p.m. Nov. 6, 2008, after Getz drove her vehicle through the stop sign at the intersection on Gardner Road, at Illinois 47, and smashed into the driver’s side of the Jahn’s car.
Probation is not a part of Getz’s sentence. She must serve at least 85 percent of her term, or 20 years, putting her in her early 60s when she is released from prison. She was given credit for 285 days spent in jail since her arrest.
Although noting that nothing can replace his family, Jahn said after the sentencing he is confident Grundy County State’s Attorney Sheldon Sobol, himself and Sobol’s staff were very thorough in everything they undertook and the countless hours of work leading up to Getz’s conviction.
“Every morning I am faced with the reality that Mandy, Ryan and Kaitlyn are gone,” he said. “They were the victims of a selfish and senseless act. And even now, the tragedy of driving under the influence continues to tear apart families all over the country.”
Jahn’s prayer and hope is that something good results from the tragedy. He asked the public to take time to consider the consequences of their decision.
“If you know someone who struggles with alcohol abuse, be a good example for them — please don’t let them drink and drive,” he said.
“You can make the difference. One simple choice can mean life, or death, for someone else. Please, the next time you are faced with that choice, remember these words, and remember Mandy, Ryan and Kaitlyn.”
Sobol said afterward he felt confident his office was very thorough in the prosecution of the case. Getz does have the right under law to appeal the sentence.
“The one thing I’m confident in is, I do know Judge Marsaglia very well, having practiced before him for a long time,” Sobol said. “I’m sure he did what he perceived to be correct under the law, and that’s appropriate.
“I have a very one-sided opinion of the case, so I’m not very objective. That’s his job, and I’m confident he’s done a good job with it.”
In a printed statement, Sobol noted the unspeakable tragedy and horrible crime thrust upon the lives of everyone who knew the Jahns.
“The children were innocent, sweet, loving and a source of great joy to the Jahn and Borneman families,” the statement read. “Amanda was a loving mother and wife whose smile and bubbly personality were capable of lighting up any situation.
“Yet, Ann Marie Getz made a choice to operate a vehicle while highly intoxicated, and ripped the life from these people. At the same time, she turned the life of a husband and father, Josh Jahn, upside down.”
Sobol’s statement noted there is nothing he can say to offer Josh and his parents and the Borneman family any real solace.
“Those (24) years in prison do not bring back the lives of the three loved ones this family has lost,” he concluded. “I can only hope this sentence will serve to discourage others from drinking and driving in Illinois.”
Following a number of area public appearances this year on drinking and driving, Josh said he will continue to help spread the message that DUI’s can be a tragic waste of life. He also will continue to help Sobol if the state’s attorney requests his presence at his programs on alcohol abuse. He also will push for stronger and more strict legislation governing drinking and driving.
His religious faith has helped Josh survive the impact of the tragedy.
“My faith in Jesus Christ, knowing the Mandy, Kaitlyn and Ryan are in Heaven because they believe in Him, as I do,” he said. “I know I will see them again ... “
He also suggested others love their children, and do little things with them as well as momentous occasions.
“It’s the little things people take for granted,” he said. “Little things count. I was blessed enough to realize that before this happened. I was always aware of little things.”
Josh’s father, Edward Jahn, said after the sentencing he considers his son to be a great man.
“Not because he’s our son, it’s because we’ve observed too many times in his life — especially now in this hard time — he has chosen those things that are the definition of greatness,” he said.
“Today isn’t about punishment,” he noted. “Hopefully, today is about prevention. I believe its within all our desires to see that this is prevented — so this doesn’t ever come into another man’s family.”
Ed Jahn spoke of the sustaining power of God as an anchor to a person’s soul. He also noted the parenting job is when the parent puts the child’s hand in God’s hand. He concluded with the sentencing.
“I really hope Ann Marie uses the opportunity in the time she has been given, because I believe she has the capacity to be that good person she has been at times,” he said. “I pray she goes after those opportunities to be all those kinds of things that contribute now to the good of others.
“We saw that in Mandy and the children’s lives. She has the same opportunity. I hope she realizes it. I hope it’s just not a ‘I found Jesus in prison’ thing, because that happens to many people.”