ISU Students Upset with Plea Deal for Ex-CyRide Driver

STORY COUNTY, Iowa -- Word of Benjamin Clague's plea deal Monday traveled fast in Story County.

"I was very upset about the news," said Iowa State University sophomore Nahla Alnaamani.

It also spread quickly in Clague's hometown of Gilbert.

"He lives down the street from me and that's wrong," said Jackie Burks, a neighbor of Clague.

The 24-year-old former CyRide bus driver plead guilty to failure to report an accident, a simple misdemeanor that carries up to 30 days in jail and a $100 fine after a hit and run crash claimed the life of ISU student Emmalee Jacobs in December.

"Speeding tickets cost more than what he got charged," said senior ISU student Jesslyn Prohaska. "30 days in jail and someone died.  So, I was a bit surprised."

The case originally went unsolved with no one coming forward in over a month. When charged in January, Clague faced leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death charges which carries a sentence up to five years in prison.

"You killed a girl, you left her for dead and you didn`t come back," said Burks.

Tuesday, Channel 13 News attempted to contact the Clague family at their Gilbert home.

"Ben's not here and I don't think any of us care to comment," his father said.

Ben's father did say it's likely he will not be behind the wheel of CyRide bus.

"I have no idea," he said. "Well actually, he doesn't know and I don't know if that opportunity will be available."

Others believe his only option should still be behind bars as the Jacobs family continues life without Emmalee.

"If my parents were in their shoes, I can't imagine how they would feel," Prohaska said. "The result of this accident was their daughter's death and all this man suffered for repercussions were 30 days (in jail) and $100."

This caused some, like Alnaamani, to feel as though the scales of justice are unbalanced.

"The fine itself is just so little," Alnaamani said. "Like $100 compared to a life? That's just unfair."

Clague will also receive credit for time he has already served and will officially be sentenced on Friday, Aug. 5 in Story County.