On November 20th, Brittany Ison, received her sentence for the hit-and-run death that involved a motorcyclist named Jason Claypool. Unfortunately, Mr. Claypool died from his injuries. After striking Mr. Claypool with her car, Ms. Ison drove to work and completed her scheduled work shift. She eventually contacted the authorities about the incident 12 hours later.
During the sentencing, she apologized to the victim’s family. Hamilton County judge Ralph Winkler felt that her apology to the victim’s family was sincere and that Mr. Claypool was partially responsible for his own death. This could explain why Judge Winkler didn’t sentence Ms. Ison any prison time. She received house arrest, a suspended license, community service, and must financially compensate the Claypool family.
After the sentencing, I received an email from Brianna Claypool, the 17 year-old daughter of Mr. Jason Claypool. She is a high school student that shared her grief with me. She loved her father and felt the media unfairly portrayed him.
She wants people to know that her father wasn’t the reckless motorcyclist the media has portrayed him to be. Brianna loved her father and wanted me and everyone else to know how she felt about him. I interviewed her so that she could let readers know the truth about what a loving parent her father was. She also shared precious family photos of her late father.
MH: Can you tell me about your father? Unfortunately, he has been portrayed as a reckless motorcyclist. Is this an unfair portrayal?
BC: Yes it is unfair. As a diabetic, he was insulin dependent, which could alter his blood alcohol reading. It was early in the morning and he was headed to work. He wasn’t drinking. It is sad that people think he was drunk while on his ride to work.
With his car broken down, his motorcycle was his only transportation to work. And he would never miss work because he had to provide for his kids. When he left the house that morning, it wasn’t raining. And I am guessing that he didn’t know it was going to rain either. Most of the time, he wore his helmet. And if someone rode with him, they also wore a helmet. I am also guessing that he didn’t wear his helmet that morning because it was in the house and not on the bike’s backseat. Dad was a great motorcycle rider and was careful with the bike because it had once been my grandpa’s (dad’s hero) bike.
MH: How would you describe your father?
BC: My dad was a great father to all of his children. He loved every one of us. He was a family man and made sure we had smiles on our faces. He was also funny, loving, caring (my aunt would call him Pooh Bear), and had a heart of gold. He was always there for everyone and would give the shirt off his back to anyone in need.
I have so many favorite memories of my dad. For instance, he and I played with my Barbies. Another time while at my grandmother’s, I can remember my dad (6’2, the big working guy) coming in and playing dress up with me. He also taught me how to play this fun race car game. We played for hours.
Other favorite memories included my entire family. My brother Shawn and my dad used to play video games and work on cars together. And then my sister Katie would yell for my dad to watch princess movies with her, which he did. My brother Will and my dad used to play toy cars. Will was just happy to be with our dad. My parents also had cook-offs in the kitchen. Sadly, none of us will ever be able to have any of these moments again without thinking about my dad. Even with his final breath, he helped people. He was an organ and tissue donor and helped save more than 100 lives.
MH: This will be your first Thanksgiving and Christmas without your father. How are you handling this?
BC: I have a large family and we all love one another. Thanksgiving was hard because dad was not there and we were all hurting over what was said and not said at the sentencing. Christmas and every other day will be difficult because my dad won’t be here.
Although it’s hard, my family and I are trying to handle this the best way we can. But how can we move on when my dad can’t even rest in peace? He can’t rest in peace because of the cruel and hurtful lies that people have said about him. It’s said to treat people the way you want to be treated. My dad believed this statement. Would other people want nasty comments made about their family? If not, why say negative things about my daddy when they aren’t true?
MH: How did you learn of his death?
BC: Back in June, while at my grandfather’s (my pop) house, we received an early phone call from my mom. When I got to the phone, I could tell something was wrong. “Honey, you know your daddy and I love you very much,” she said. She then started to cry. “I don’t know how to tell you this, but your daddy is gone.” I dropped to the floor crying. I thought there was no way he could be gone. I didn’t even know what had happened until I watched the news, which just killed me. My dad was my best friend that I could run to with anything. He was always there with open arms.
MH: Did you attend the trial of Ms. Ison?
I attended the sentencing and it made me angry to listen to what people were saying. The judge said my dad “contributed to his own death” and that Brittany Ison was a “remarkable young woman” considering her circumstances. He never mentioned that she worked all-day or that she waited for twelve hours before contacting the police. And he didn’t mention how she drove without any insurance. I became so angry and sad that I wrote an impact statement, but wasn’t allowed to read it. The judge didn’t want us to read anything from our statements.
MH: If you could say something to her what would it be? Forgiveness or bitterness?
Neither. Indifference is how I feel. I would tell her something that I never heard the judge tell her at the sentencing. I would tell her, “You did something wrong. You left my dad on the side of the road. That is wrong.”
MH: What did you and your family think of Ison’s sentence?
BC: The sentence was fair but we wanted her to go to jail so she would learn a lesson and never do this again. Although she hurt us, Judge Winkler pushed even more pain on our family. It was like we had lost dad all over again. Thank you so much for this interview. It means the world to me and my family.
Based on the strong comments from Ms. Claypool, I have no doubts that her family will overcome this tragedy. I have always believed that people are defined by the impact they have made on others. Former president Jimmy Carter once said that when looking at a person’s birth and death dates to focus on the dash separating the two dates. It’s the dash that defined the person, not the series of numbers. Mr. Jason Claypool earned something that other men can only hope for–the love and respect of his family.
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