Woman Seriously Injured by Teens Who Threw Rock at Her Car: 'I Haven't Forgiven Them'
"But on the other hand, kids don't always make the best decisions," Sharon Budd tells PEOPLE
Last year Sharon and Randy Budd celebrated their 31st wedding anniversary by strolling the white sandy beach in Sarasota, Florida – the same coastal town where they honeymooned decades ago.
Thursday marks 32 years strong for the couple, but instead of going to the beach, their day will be devoted to surgery prep for Sharon’s seventh operation, a cranial vault and facial plastic reconstruction that is scheduled for Friday.
It’s been almost a year since four teenage boys threw a 4.6 lb. rock through the windshield of the couple’s moving car, causing Sharon to experience massive blunt injury trauma to the head.
Court proceedings took place on Tuesday to determine punishments for three of the four teens involved in the incident, all of whom were denied the request to have their cases moved to juvenile court back in April.
Last July, Randy, 54, Sharon, 53, and their daughter Kaylee, 20, of Uniontown, Ohio, were driving to New York to see a Broadway play, when a boulder came crashing through the front window of the family’s Nissan Rogue – striking the former middle school language arts teacher and breast cancer survivor square in the forehead. Sharon experienced irreparable brain damage, a crushed skull and the loss of her right eye.
In the chilling 911 call obtained by HLN, Randy can be heard screaming, “She is grasping for her life. Oh my God, half her brain is gone! Oh my God! Oh my God!”
During Tuesday’s proceedings, two of the teens entered guilty pleas, and one was sentenced to serve as much as 20 years in state prison. Judge Michael Sholley apparently dismissed the term “prank,” used in the trials, instead referring to the incident as an act of “pure evil,” according to pennlive.com.
Brett Lahr, 19, was sentenced to 18 months to 20 years in state prison.
His brother, Dylan Lahr, 18, pleaded guilty, and is looking at anywhere from 4.5 to 20 years in prison according to his lawyer, R. Bruce Manchester.
“Dylan appreciates the seriousness and magnitude of the injuries that Ms. Budd has suffered,” Manchester tells PEOPLE. “He is, in my opinion, very remorseful. He’s willing to pay his dues.”
For his role, Keefer McGee, 18, pleaded guilty and could spend almost a year in county jail with up to 10 years of probation.
The fourth, Tyler Porter, 18, and his lawyer are still considering a plea offer.
The Budds are satisfied with the outcome of Tuesday’s court proceedings, although the couple tells PEOPLE that they haven’t received a single apology from any of men involved.
“They need a wake up call,” Randy tells PEOPLE. “We want them to come out and be productive citizens and to stop this destructive criminal behavior. I was young once too, but I never did anything like this – for God’s sake it was a 5 lb. rock.”
“I haven’t forgiven them,” Sharon tells PEOPLE. “But on the other hand, kids don’t always make the best decisions. I can’t understand why they would want the thrill of hurting me like this, hurting my entire family.”
The mother of four struggles everyday with the repercussions of the tragedy: menial tasks like getting out of bed, showering and dressing herself can take hours.
“She does need 24-hour care at this point, she’s on permanent disability,” says Randy. “She can hold a conversation though, and she hasn’t lost her great sense of humor. But most importantly, Sharon’s at peace.”
Daughter Kaylee fondly remembers trips she used to take with Sharon near their hometown, stopping in quaint boutiques to look at clothes – outings no longer possible since the incident.
“The other day she asked if I missed the old mom who took me shopping,” the rising junior at University of Akron tells PEOPLE. “She has a hard time connecting with me on an emotional level now. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Not to her.”
The road to recovery for Sharon Budd is ongoing, but according to her doctors, this survivor has made truly miraculous improvements.
“I wasn’t optimistic she would be walking or even talking when she was first brought here,” says Dr. Atom Sarkar of Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pennsylvania. “We knew that Sharon wouldn’t be the exact same person, and she does have trouble with her emotional personality due to her frontal lobe injury. But she is pretty darn close to the woman she was before.”