The District Attorney's Office charged Deputy John Swearengin with two felony counts of vehicular manslaughter Friday, the most severe charges they could have handed down. Some family members of Crystal Jolley and Daniel Hiler have mixed feelings about the charges.
They said they're happy to see the case moved forward but sad for the deputy and his family.
"When I come here I visit my friend," said Mystery Clevenger, Crystal's aunt and best friend, as she stood near the memorial site that still sits on the side of Norris Road.
That's where Crystal Jolley and Daniel Hiler lost their lives December 16th when Deputy John Swearengin hit them with his patrol car.
"I feel like a part of me is gone," said Clevenger, as she remembers the night her life changed forever. "I'm sleeping and my husband woke me up and said Crystal just got killed by the cops and it took me months to sleep after that."
A 10 month investigation by the California Highway Patrol recommended two felony counts vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. Friday District Attorney Lisa Green filed those charges.
"Due to the speed and given that he didn't have his lights or sirens on, it was apparent to us that the evidence supported the filing of the felony charges," said Green.
According to the CHP report, Swearengin was traveling in excess of 80 miles per hour prior to the crash.
"It makes me feel like there is somebody on our side and that there is a sense of justice," said Vanessa Hewitte, a friend of Jolley and Hiler.
But the family also feels sorry for the deputy.
"I'm glad but at the same time it's sad for his family, for my family because the accident happened," said Hewitte.
"His whole life is ruined," said Hewitte. "Everybody's life is messed up in this situation."
According to the Kern County Sheriff's Department, the deputy is now on paid administrative leave while they conduct their investigation. If convicted Swearengin could face up to six years in state prison.
"If he serves one day, justice is served," said Clevenger.
The families of both Hiler and Jolley also filed civil lawsuits against Kern County and the deputy. The attorney for the Jolley family says Friday's charges will only help their civil case if Swearengin is convicted.
"If he is convicted, that would prove that he was negligent to the extent that he admitted vehicular manslaughter and that would certainly be admissible in our case to prove that he was negligent," said Thomas Brill, Joley Family's Attorney.