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Brutal Racine County hit-and-run driver sentenced to nearly 40 years behind bars

Posted: 7:53 PM, Dec 03, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-04 04:20:01Z
Hit-and-run driver sentenced to prison

The teenager accused of running over a couple outside a Racine County grocery store before taking off will spend close to 40 years in prison. 

Isaiah Degroot was sentenced on Monday for the hit-and-run at Festival Foods in January. He was trying to avoid a traffic stop when he hit Jeff and Cheryl Coopman.

In the midst of a packed courtroom, Jeff Coopman wheeled up to the microphone to make sure he was heard.

“Have you ever woken up and thought about the fact that maybe if you and your wife had just died it would be a lot easier?” Jeff Coopman said. “I have to do that every day.”

Degroot was driving a stolen car with a stolen gun when he was caught. The then 17-year-old was out on bail after a shooting when he hit the Coopmans. 

Judge Mark Nelsen called the scene that day at Festival Foods "reminiscent of a war zone." 

Jeff Coopman lost his leg and Cheryl Coopman lost her arm and leg. Cheryl also lost part of her memory due to a brain injury from the crash.

The couple listened to family and friends talk about their financial, emotional and physical struggles. 

“They will both now be handicapped for the rest of their lives,” said sister Sandra Coopman. 

There was little emotion from Degroot, who is now 18-years-old, until it was his family’s turn to talk. 

“I wish I could change what happened,” said Shonda Hayes, Degroot’s mother. 

The Union Grove couple knows it could have been worse. 

“Lucky to be alive,” said Cheryl Coopman. 

Jeff says he’s relieved the man responsible will pay for his actions. 

"I'm relieved.  I’m thankful people will be safe in this community.  Justice should have been served earlier in this kids life and now it is what it is.  We have our sentence to serve and he has his.  Yes it makes me feel better," said Jeff Coopman.

A restitution hearing has been set for February.